Following the bloody Revolution of 1910-1917, Mexican leaders took a great interest in rebuilding their devastated, war-torn country. In an attempt to further national unity, the post-Revolutionary regime sought to construct a unified, national identity. Many officials, such as José Vasconcelos, Mexico's first Secretario de Educación, viewed education as one of the keys to redeeming the nation. These government officials, empowered by their ideals and their sense of civic duty, worked to extend educational benefits to even the most overlooked segments of Mexican society. This thesis will examine two fictional texts that consider these efforts to transform and unify the nation through education in the post-Revolutionary years. Emilio "El Indio" Fernández's film, Río Escondido (1947), and Rosario Castellanos's novel, Balún Canán (1957), document the results of this federal intervention on behalf of its citizens in frontier towns far from the nation's capital. Nonetheless, Fernández and Castellanos provide very different appraisals of Mexico's post-Revolutionary education agenda. I view Río Escondido as official discourse because it lauds the national government initiatives to extend learning to all Mexicans and suggests that education will redeem the Mexican people. In Balún Canán, on the other hand, those in power utilize the education system to maintain control in society. Thus the novel criticizes failures within federal policies to provide education to less privileged sections of society. Despite their differences, both texts speak to a reality that Mexico dealt with during the mid-twentieth century when it attempted to solve its problems through education.



College and Department

Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese



Date Submitted


Document Type





Balún Canán, education, Emilio Fernández, maestro rural, official discourse, redemption, Río Escondido, Rosario Castellanos, rural school