Sarah L. Hickman, Senior Seminar in Spanish.
Dr. Marla Williams
Don Segundo Sombra: The Mystical Gaucho
The novel Don Segundo Sombra is representative of Argentina at the beginning of the twentieth century. In this novel Ricardo Güiraldes tells the story of a young orphan becoming one of the most typical figures of Argentine culture: the gaucho. Gauchos are Argentine cowboys, and are often portrayed as almost mystical people. Gauchos are silent and strong in every circumstance they encounter. There is something about gauchos that invokes wonder and admiration in all who look upon them. One cannot be sure exactly what it is about these people that invokes such reactions. Perhaps it is the manner in which the gauchos work, drink mate, or communicate without words; maybe it is the fact that many times gauchos are orphans who continue to embrace solitude throughout their lives. They have never known any family other than the pampa and the herd. A gaucho’s life is not easy; it is characterized by poverty and the struggle for mere survival. The only thing that is certain in a gaucho’s life is the promise of hard work that is constantly before him. A gaucho’s home is not a house, but as the gaucho in Don Segundo Sombra states, “There is no better home than the back of his horse, nor a more comfortable bed than his saddle blanket and his sheepskin.”