The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution

For this short (4 page) reflection essay, you will do a primary source analysis of Mariano Azuelas The Underdogs.

For Sections 2 and 3, you may use one or two secondary sources for background information. Acceptable sources include course materials, peer-reviewed articles from JSTOR, and encyclopedia articles from the online Encyclopedia Britannica.

Section 4 must be ENTIRELY based on your reading of The Underdogs.


Use footnotes to cite your sources for the paper following Chicago Style footnoting (illustrated at the end of the syllabus and/or google how to do them). Use 12 pt. Times New Roman font, double-spaced, 1-inch margins.

While reading The Underdogs:

Consider the author Mariano Azuelas purpose and biases. Did the author have first-hand knowledge of the events? How did the author collect the information? Who was the audience? Which side appears in the most favorable light? What assumptions does the author make about attitudes and society? What aspects of daily life, government, or religion does the author mention in passing?

What to say in the analysis:

Your paper should be 4 full pages and include the following information:

1. Introduction. A single paragraph that introduces the topic for your paper.

2. Historical background of The Underdogs. What was happening at the time that the book was written? Be sure to indicate the source(s) of your information. Give priority to information that is likely to have a direct bearing on how you interpret the book. [about half a page]

3. Context for writing The Underdogs. Who wrote it? When? Why? What is it about? For whom did the author write? Did the author have a personal stake in how events turned out? [about half a page]

4. Usefulness of The Underdogs as a primary source. What can be learned from the source? Give examples of things which can (or cannot) be learned from the source. How are the author’s circumstances reflected in the source? Give specific examples of statements that are particularly biased or particularly even-handed. Does the author reveal anything about general societal attitudes (e.g. towards religion, politics, gender, class, family life)? Does the author offer insights into the specific historical events or personages? Does the author give information about things that are not the main topic of the source? Try to go beyond a consideration of the basic facts presented in the source to an analysis of larger insights into history which might be gained from the source. [this should be the bulk of your paper]

5. Conclusion. What is your overall assessment of the source? Is this a reliable source? What are its strongest and weakest points?

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