Structuralism is the methodological approach employed in this study of two contemporary Mexican novels. The technique, including logico-mathematical relationships, schemata, and terminology, consists generally of an adaptation of Claude Lévi-Strauss' structural studies in anthropology and particularly in his interpretation of myth. The "deep-structure-surface-structure" dichotomization, a fundamental methodological premise we have adopted, is from Noam Chomsky by way of Ferdinand de Saussure's theory of linguistics. And the notion of "equilibrium," a dynamic interplay allowing for a genetic, developmental approach to structuralism, has been borrowed from the psychologist Jean Piaget.
Our initial objective was to formulate eclectically a method of structural analysis. A "model" (heuristic device) was constructed for use in interpreting the two works of art. In the first two chapters, a preliminary interpretation was conducted of each novel to establish its structures. In the third chapter, the two novels were compared and contrasted to reveal homologous and heterologous relationships between their structures. In the third chapter we also began to subject our "model" to close scrutiny in order to judge its viability. In the final two chapters we inquired into the relationships that exist between the two novels and "myth." We followed the assumption that the mental constructs of the modern novelist and the "mythmaker" are analogous: both are an attempt to reconcile basic existential antinomies. Thus we have analyzed the modern novelist's role as "mythmaker" in the structural-epistemological sense rather than in the formal sense.
It was our intent to establish in the course of this study an isomorphism between the two terms of a universal opposition, sacred-secular and the basic structural elements to be found in the two novels. It became evident that rather than a simplistic dualism, the sacred-secular opposition is a dynamic, reversible process, each term complementarily conjoined with the other while at the same time supplementarily contiguous to the meaningful structural units found in the two novels. Therefore, we have attempted to verify logically our proposal that "mythmaking" tendencies in the two novels studied are intimately connected with the complementary opposition, sacred-secular. Consequently, through a conscious and/or unconscious attempt on the part of the novelists to resolve this basic opposition, the "myth," or "myth-in-the-making," is constructed.
A prime concern of our study, therefore, is not what the work of art contains but how it got there, Given the elusiveness of this problem, satisfaction is more adequately derived from an inquiry into relative possibilities rather than through a defense of invariable "truths. "
Latin American Studies
Level of Degree
Latin American Studies
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Marshall Rutherford Nason
Third Committee Member
George Arthur Huaco
Merrell, Floyd F.. "Sacred-Secular Complementarity In Al Filo Del Agua And Pedro Paramo: An Inquiry Into Mythmaking." (1973). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/ltam_etds/56