- The Mexican (short story)
Written during the
Mexican Revolution, while London was in El Paso, Texas, "The Mexican" was first published in the Saturday Evening Post. In 1913 it was republished by Grosset & Dunlapin the collection of short stories " The Night Born". [cite book| last =London| first =Jack| authorlink =Jack London| title =The Night Born| publisher =Grosset & Dunlap| date =1913| location =New York| pages =290 pp.| isbn = ] The protagonist is based on the real-life "Joe Rivers," the pseudonym of a Mexican revolutionary whose boxing winnings supported the "Junta Revolucionaria Mexicana", a group of revolutionaries-in-exile. Joe Rivers eventually retired from boxing and became an ice deliverypersonin El Paso. [cite book |last=García |first=Mario T. |authorlink= |coauthors=Bert Corona |title=Memories of Chicano history: the life and narrative of Bert Corona |url=http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft3p30052t |format=HTML |accessdate=2007-07-11 |series=Latinos in American society and culture |date=1995 |publisher=University of California |location=Berkeley |isbn=0520201523 |pages=p. 65-66 |chapter=Chapter Three: Border Depression |quote=I read quite a few of Jack London's books, especially at the encouragement of my English teacher. I became interested in London's life because he had been in El Paso during the time of the Mexican Revolution and had written a story about a man who at one time had delivered ice to our home. The man's name was Joe Rivers. London's story about Rivers was called "The Mexican," and it was later made into a screenplay and a film. In the story, London depicted Rivers as a campesino from Mexico who, after his wife is raped and killed by the federales, joins Pancho Villa's forces. Villa sends Rivers to the border to acquire guns and ammunition. In El Paso, he comes into contact with the Junta Revolucionaria Mexicana, a group my father worked with. Rivers remained on the border and became a prizefighter. He fought for the welterweight and lightweight championship and then donated all his prize money to the Junta. He later retired from fighting and became an ice delivery man in El Paso.]
The story centers around Felipe Rivera, the son of a Mexican printer who had published articles favorable to striking workers in the
hydraulic powerplants of Río Blanco, Veracruz. The workers are locked out, and the federal troops are sent against them. Rivera escapes the massacre by climbing over the bodies of the deceased—including those of his mother and father. He makes his way to el Paso, where he comes into contact with the "Junta Revolucionaria Mexicana". He volunteers to serve the Revolution at the office of the "Junta", who, suspicious, put him to work doing menial labor.
Soon, however, he is dispatched to
Baja Californiato reestablish connections between Los Angelesrevolutionaries and the peninsula. Exceeding his orders, he assassinates federal General Juan Alvarado and returns to El Paso.
The fate of the Revolution hangs in the balance as the "Junta" scrambles to finance the revolutionary armies. Rivera, who has been
boxingon the local circuit to support the "Junta", decides to fight the well-known boxer Danny Ward in order to secure the funds needed by the "Junta". He negotiates a winner-take-all contract for the fight, on Ward's condition that the weigh-in occur at ten in the morning rather than immediately prior to the fight.
The fight lasts seventeen rounds, but eventually Ward succumbs to Rivera, who is fueled by visions of violent vengeance.
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