Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


School of Language, Literature and Media Studies


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Francisco Martinez


The aim of this study is to analyse how three different Argentinian writers: Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, José Hernández and Ricardo Güiraldes characterise in their work the life of the Argentinian cowboy, the gaucho. Using real life models, they describe the life and personality of this countryman after the colonial times and until the first part of the twentieth century. Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811-1888), an essayist, politician and educationalist, wrote Facundo in 1845, an essay about the life of the "caudillo" (chieftain) Juan Facundo Quiroga and one of the classics of Argentinian literature. Facundo is a study of the Argentinian customs and types, as much as a protest against Juan Manuel de Rosas dictatorship government. Using the life of Facundo Quiroga, Sarmiento describes how barbarism has become part of Argentinian political life. He formalises the polemic of "civilisation and barbarism", meaning the law and order of the city versus the lawlessness of the pampas. The author gives an account of the environment where the gaucho lives and describes four different types of gaucho: the "baquiano" (guide), the "rastreador" (tracker), the "gaucho malo" (outlaw), the "payador" (singer). José Hernández (1834-1886) wrote Martín Fierro, which is considered the greatest Latin-American poem of the nineteenth century. Hernández is against the idea of Sarmiento that the countryside generates barbarism, and he stands in defence of the gaucho. His poem is a social protest against the oligarchic government that exploits the inhabitants of the pampas. Martin Fierro, a payador, tells of his misfortunes and adventures using the characteristic modes of expression of the countryman. He represents the gaucho victim of the justice, forced to live as an outlaw and to seek refuge among the Indians. Ricardo Güiraldes (1886-1927), in Don Segundo Sombra, has a totally different perspective of the gaucho. The novel is considered one of the greatest regional novels of the twentieth century and describes the life and personality of a countryman who lives in freedom in the pampas, the land that he considers his own. Güiraldes' gaucho is a man who has learned how to control his own nature by living in an environment only conquered by the fittest.


Abstract in English, text in Spanish