Summary of Battles in the desert by José Emilio Pacheco

The story that passes the threshold of the fictitious and the real, describes traumatizing situations of Carlitos, who stars in the novel. The story unfolds about an impossible love; Mariana, mother, his best friend Jim who makes a great impression on Carlitos and whom he becomes obsessed with. But one day when he can’t take it anymore, he decides to escape from school and go to see Mariana to confess his love, who takes it with great affection and describes the impossibility of that love given the difference in ages, so he asks that the two of them forget such a situation.

When at school it is discovered that Carlitos was not there; Jim, who already suspected Carlitos’ strange attitude, mentions that it is very possible that he was at his house and they turn to his mother to ask if he was there, Mariana confesses that she had gone to his apartment but only for a book but no one even believes this situation in the face of Mariana’s refusal to accept it.

When this pure and innocent love is known, visions of a foolish and crude society, incomprehensible and full of taboos come into play. Jim stops being his friend, his parents take him as a psychologically ill person, in school they make fun of him and in church they associate his behavior with the temptations of the devil. While Carlitos, more than the others, understands that it is a simple normal love.

Due to this misunderstanding on the part of his schoolmates, his teacher and even his family, Carlitos is taken to the psychologist, to confessions in the church and is practically locked up until he changes schools and over time incurs his life, moving away from the social group in which he was.

His father’s sinking soap company was bought by the competition and he becomes Manager, then the story takes a stable turn until he sees his former partner Rosales with a box of Adams gum working on the trucks. Although he tries to hide from Carlitos, he ends up addressing him.

To finish Carlitos invites him an ice cream, Rosales, who hasn’t had breakfast yet, prefers some cakes. They proceed to talk about the past, and before Carlitos demands that he tell him about Jim and Mariana; Rosales begins to relate how the close friend of the then president Miguel Alemán and who Jim said was his father, has a great fight with Mariana by inferring the robberies that were happening in the government, after a fight Mariana returns to her apartment and commits suicide leaving alone a letter explaining what happened, and Jim has to go back to San Francisco with his real Dad.

Incredulous and impressed Carlitos runs to see Mariana regardless of whether others see him and take him again for crazy and sick, but after much searching and questioning the tenants in the building; No one shows that someone with the name Jim or Mariana had lived there, the previous doorman was not there and there was an air of mystery around Mariana.

Many years later; Carlos already as an adult, living in the United States makes a retrospective of his life as a child and the traumas that this meant until then, he still does not know if all this was a deception of the mind, a dream or reality, nothing is known. has known but the memory is still present and gives rise to the text previously related.