In the book, The Underdogs by Azuela, many of the themes of fiction can be utilized to actually analyze history. For instance, one can look to the character who assumes a leadership role in the offing, Demetrio Macias. As a leader, Macias is extremely caring, and some might even call him soft. Depending upon the setting and perspective, this could either be a good thing or a bad thing. He is a wise and caring leader who has a number of strengths that made him unique and helped him rise up the ranks, and he presents a picture of full humanity and resolve that can be found in actual leaders of the Revolution.
Macias is a man who originally comes to power because he is looking to protect his family. He is not a brutal man in any regard, but rather, came to leadership from a position of caring, as he was thrust into what some might call unwanted violence because he needed to protect his wife from being raped. However, during that process, Macias started to see the brutality of those who were challenging him. As a leader, perhaps his seminal quality was the ability to relate to the people fighting under his charge. Many leaders, it seems, are thought of as being aloof or not in concert with the people fighting under them. This was not the case for Macias, who had come from a background of suffering, and was able to motivate his men because of that suffering. In fact, he often was able to attract and pick up men who had lost their homes to the looting and burning of Huertas. Because Macias had seen his own suffering – through the incidents with his wife and the death of his dog – he was able to present a cogent motivational strategy that helped keep his men fighting.
However, there were some weaknesses to his leadership style. For one, because he came at things from a relatively soft perspective, he was somewhat unable to keep the focus of his men or run a tight ship. Often, his men would loot and rape, sometimes being just as bad as the people they were fighting against. In addition, he lost focus on the things that he was fighting for. By the end, he and his men were still going, but Macias could not articulate the reasons why he was still going in this way. The inability to keep focus was something that often showed up in his work, and limited the overall effectiveness of what this leader was able to accomplish.
In comparing him to some of the real-life leaders of the revolution, one can see some similarities. Pancho Villa is one of the most venerable leaders in Mexican history. He is very similar to Macias in a number of different ways. For one, Villa saw tremendous family hardship growing up, and this motivated him to fight. He saw his sister get raped, and he experienced his father’s death. He sought to avenge these things. Likewise, he believed that he had been somewhat unfairly treated because of his meager beginnings. Both of these men were “men of the people,” so to speak, which made them more capable of communicating with the average soldier and bringing about more motivation. Carranza, on the other hand, was a more political man with more polish. He is different from Macias in that his upbringing did not cause him to want to get revenge. However, he might be similar to Macias in that he was taking on the revolution from a softer, more intellectual side. This is how Macias approached things, rather than being a hardened military leader. Macias transformed into that sort of leader over time, but like Carranza, he began with noble intentions.
Ultimately Macias is a character who provides a good picture of what the Mexican leaders were all about. He was a man of the people, and someone who took the softer side of things. He got into it for the right reasons, but as with all wars, he was eventually taken by some of the pressures of war. His leadership dynamics are not a direct copy of any real-life leader, but provide a good mixture of the few who led Mexico in its revolution.