The Mexican (short story)

"The Mexican"
Author Jack London
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Short story
Publication type Magazine short story
Publisher Saturday Evening Post
Publication date 1911

"The Mexican" is a 1911 short story by American author Jack London.


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 & Dunlap in the collection of short stories The Night Born.[1] 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 deliveryperson in El Paso.[2]

Plot summary

The story centers around Felipe Rivera, the son of a Mexican printer who had published articles favorable to striking workers in the hydraulic power plants 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, Texas 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 California to reestablish connections between Los Angeles revolutionaries 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 boxing on 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.



  1. London, Jack (1913). The Night Born. New York: Grosset & Dunlap. pp. 290 pp.
  2. García, Mario T.; Bert Corona (1995). "Chapter Three: Border Depression". Memories of Chicano history: the life and narrative of Bert Corona. Latinos in American society and culture. Berkeley: University of California. pp. 65–66. ISBN 0-520-20152-3. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 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.
  • London, Jack (1911-08-11). "The Mexican". Saturday Evening Post. Curtis Publishing Company. Retrieved 2011-08-298.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
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