A Letter to God by Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes (Translated by Donald A. Yates): A Complete Study
I. About Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes:
Gregorio Lopez Y Fuentes was a Mexican fiction writer. He became popular as one of the major chroniclers of the Mexican Revolution. He is considered as one of the major exponents of the ‘Novel of the Revolution’ too. In his works he presented the social issues of his time.
He composed many exciting, humorous, and symbolic stories. His story A Letter to God is very popular. His most significant work is El indio (The Indian). It was published in 1935. It is a fictional study of the life of indigenous race of Mexico.
In his youth Gregorio Lopez Y Fuentes spent much time in his father’s general store. He came in contact with the Indians, farmers, and labourers of the region there. Later he described their lives in his works. As a young man he fought in the Mexican Revolution. He served as the general editor of a newspaper named El Universal.
Gregorio Lopez Y Fuentes was born on Nov. 17, 1895 at Huasteca in Veracruz, Mexico. He died on December 10, 1966 in Mexico City.
II. A Letter to God by Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes (Translated by Donald A. Yates)
The house – the only one in the entire valley – sat on the crest of a low hill. From this height one could see the river and, next to the corral, the field of ripe corn dotted with the kidney bean flowers that always promised a good harvest.
The only thing the earth needed was a rainfall, or at least a shower. Throughout the morning Lencho – who knew his fields intimately – had done nothing else but scan the sky toward the northeast.
“Now we’re really going to get some water, woman.”
The woman, who was preparing supper, replied: “Yes, God willing.”
The oldest boys were working in the field, while the smaller ones were playing near the house, until the woman called to them all: “Come for dinner…”
It was during the meal that, just as Lencho had predicted, big drips of rain began to fall. In the northeast huge mountains of clouds could be seen approaching. The air was fresh and sweet.
The man went out to look for something in the corral for no other reason than to allow himself the pleasure of feeling the rain on his body, and when he returned he exclaimed: “those aren’t raindrops falling from the sky, they’re new coins. The big drops are ten-centavo pieces and the little ones are fives…”
With a satisfied expression he regarded the field of ripe corn with its kidney bean flowers, draped in a curtain of rain. But suddenly a strong wind began to fall. These truly did resemble new silver coins. The boys, exposing themselves to the rain, ran out to collect the frozen pearls.
“It’s really getting bad now,” exclaimed the man, mortified. “I hope it passes quickly.”
It did not pass quickly. For an hour the hail rained on the house, the garden, the hillside, the cornfield, on the whole valley. The field was white, as if covered with salt. Not a leaf remained on the trees. The corn was totally destroyed. The flowers were gone from the kidney bean plants. Lencho’s soul was filled with sadness. When the storm had passed, he stood in the middle of the field and said to his sons: “A plague of locusts would have left more than this… the hail has left nothing: this year we will have no corn or beans…”
That night was a sorrowful one: “All our work, for nothing!”
“There’s no one who can help us!”
But in the hears of all who lived in that solitary house in the middle of the valley, there was a single hope: help from God.
“Don’t be so upset, even though this seems like a total loss. Remember, no one dies of hunger!”
“That’s what they say: no one dies of hunger….”
All through the night, Lencho thought only of his one hoe: the help of God, whose eyes, as he had been instructed, see everything, even what is deep in one’s conscience.
Lencho was an ox of a man, working like an animal in the fields, but still he knew how to write. The following Sunday, at day break, after having convinced, himself that there is a protecting spirit he began to write a letter which he himself would carry to town and place in the mail.
It was nothing less than a letter to God.
“God,” he wrote, “if you don’t help me, my family and I will go hungry this year. I need a hundred pesos in order to resow the field and to live until the crop comes, because the hailstorm…”
He wrote “To God” on the envelope, put the letter inside and, still troubled, went to town. At the post office he placed a stamp on the letter and dropped it into the mailbox.
One of the employees, who was a postman and also helped at the post officer, went to his boss, laughing heartily and showed him the letter to God. Never in his career as a postman had he known that address. The postmaster – a fat amiable fellow – also broke out laughing, but almost immediately he turned serious and, tapping the letter on his desk, commented: “what faith! I wish I had the faith of the man who wrote this letter. To believe the way he believes. To hope with the confidence that he knows how to hope with. Starting up a correspondence with God!”
So, in order not to disillusion that prodigy of faith, revealed by a letter that could not be delivered, the postmaster came up with an idea: answer the letter. But when he opened it, it was evident that to answer it he needed something more than good will, ink and paper. But he stuck to his resolution: he asked for money from his employee, he himself gave part of his salary, and several friends of his were obliged to give something “for an act of charity”.
It was impossible for him to gather together the hundred pesos requested by Lencho, so he was able to send the farmer only a little more than half. He put the bills in an envelope addressed to Lencho and with them a letter containing only a signature:
The following Sunday Lencho came a bit earlier than usual to ask if there was a letter for him. It was the postman himself who handed the letter to him, while the postmaster, experiencing the contentment of a man who has performed a good deed, looked on from the doorway of his office.
Lencho showed not the slightest surprise on seeing the bills – such was his confidence – but he became angry when he counted the money. God could not have made a mistake, nor could he have denied Lencho what he had requested!
Immediately, Lencho went up to the window to ask for paper and ink. On the public writing table, he started to write with much wrinkling of his brow, caused by the effort he had to make to express his ideas. When he finished, he went to the window to buy a stamp, which he licked and then affixed to the envelope with a blow of his fist.
The moment that the letter fell into the mailbox the postmaster went to open it. It said;
“God: Of the money that I asked for only seventy pesos reached me. Send me the rest, since I need it very much. But don’t send it to me through the mail, because the post office employees are a bunch of crooks. Lencho.”
III. A Letter to God: A Summary
A Letter to God is a very popular story by Gregorio Lopez Y Fuentes. This story has been translated into English by Donald A. Yates. It is a story of a farmer’s extreme faith in God. Lencho, a hard working farmer, is the protagonist of this story. He expects for rain so that his crops may give a better yield. The rain does come. But it is followed by a devastating hailstorm. The hailstorm destroys Lencho’s crops. He becomes very sad. As he has strong belief in God, he decides to write a letter to God for some monetary help. He wishes to repay the debt when the next crop would give him enough money.
Lencho composes the letter, goes to the post office and puts it into the letter box. The postmaster reads the address on it and laughs very much. But when he reads the letter, he becomes very serious. He is deeply touched by the strong faith of Lencho in God. To keep Lencho’s strong faith intact, he decides to help him. He collects some money from his colleagues. He puts that money into an envelope and waits for Lencho. The next Sunday Lencho visits the post office once again. He asks if there is a letter for him.
The postmaster takes out the letter and hands it over to Lencho. Lencho opens the envelope and counts the money. It is less than his demand. He becomes very angry. He is so angry that he takes pen and paper and writes one more letter to God. He puts it into the letter box. As Lencho leaves the place, the postmaster and the employees read the letter. In this second letter to God he requests to send the remaining amount. He further requests him not to send it by mail because the post office employees are not honest. They are a bunch of crooks.
IV. Objective Questions:
01. A Letter to God is written by:
a. Ruskin Bond
b. Lokesh Abrol
c. G. L. Fuentes
Ans: c. G. L. Fuentes
02. Who is the author of A Letter to God?:
(a) G.L. Fuentes
(b) Leo Tolstoy
(d) R. K. Narayan
Ans: (a) G.L. Fuentes
03. G. L. Fuentes belongs to:
Ans: b. Mexico
04. Who has translated A Letter to God?:
a. M.R. Anand
b. R.K. Narayan
c. W.B. Yeats
d. Donald A. Yates
Ans: d. Donald A. Yates
05. What is the name of the main character of the story A Letter to God?:
Ans: d. Lencho
06. What was Lencho's profession?:
a. Cattle rearing
c. Brick making
d. None of the above
Ans: b. Farming
07. Where was Lencho’s house situated?:
a. On the crest of a low hill
b. On the crest of a mountain
c. In a deep valley
d. On a high land
Ans: a. On the crest of a low hill
08. Which crop was growing on Lencho’s fields?:
None of the above
Ans: b. Corn
09. Why was Lencho satisfied?:
(a) On seeing a new tractor in his field.
(b) On seeing a new buffalo.
(c) On seeing the field of ripe corn with flowers.
(d) None of the Above
Ans: (c) On seeing the field of ripe corn with flowers.
10. What was Lencho expecting from his corn field?:
a. A good harvest
b. Lots of money
d. None of the above
Ans: a. A good harvest
11. What was the only thing that the Earth needed according to Lencho?:
a. A shower
b. A snowfall
c. Strong winds
Ans: a. A shower
12. What did Lencho hope for?:
d. None of the above
Ans: b. Rain
13. Where did Lencho expect the downpour to come from?:
Ans: (b) North-East
14. Lencho went out into the rain to:
a. Enjoy himself
b. Have the pleasure of feeling the rain on his body
c. Collect rain water
Ans: b. Have the pleasure of feeling the rain on his body
15. What did Lencho compare the large rain drops with?:
a. Silver coins
d. New coins
Ans: d. New coins
16. The rains changed into:
Ans: a. Hailstorm
17. The field looked as if it were covered in:
Ans: a. Salt
18. Lencho compared the quantum of damage with:
a. Attack by rats
b. Attack by crows
c. Plague of locusts
d. None of the above
Ans: c. Plague of locusts
19. For Lencho, what was the only hope left?:
a. Help from government
b. Help from farmer’s association
c. Help from God
Ans: c. Help from God
20. For Lencho, there was a single hope: help from:
b. Post office
Ans: a. God
21. Lencho decided to write a letter to:
Ans: a. God
22. Why did Lencho need money?
a. To buy a car
b. To save his family from hunger
c. To buy a tractor
d. To buy an ox.
Ans: b. To save his family from hunger
23. Lencho is a firm believer of:
Ans: c. God
24. Lencho wrote a letter to:
b. The village master
c. The postmaster
Ans: a. God
25. Lencho's manner of posting the letter showed that:
a. He was truly a kind hearted and simple man
b. He was greedy
c. He needed education
Ans: a. He was truly a kind hearted and simple man
26. What was the immediate reaction of the postman to see the address of the letter?:
a. Laughed whole heartedly
c. Felt sad about what happened
d. Felt empathetic
Ans: a. Laughed whole heartedly
27. Who read the letter sent by Lencho?:
a. His Wife
b. The Postmaster
c. One of the farmer
Ans: b. The Postmaster
28. The postmaster was a fat, amiable man. What is the meaning of amiable?:
Ans: c. Friendly
29. On seeing the letter, the postmaster was moved by Lencho’s:
a. Unwavering faith
c. Love for letter
d. Love for Money
Ans: a. Unwavering faith
30.What did the postmaster do then?:
a. He decided to collect the money and send it to Lencho
b. He threw away the letter
c. He decided to abuse Lencho
Ans: a. He decided to collect the money and send it to Lencho
31. Why did the postmaster decide to reply to Lencho’s letter?:
a. He was a good man
b. He felt empathetic
c. To preserve Lencho’s faith in God
Ans: c. To preserve Lencho’s faith in God
32. How much money did Lencho ask for?:
a. 100 pesos
b. 1000 pesos
c. 10 pesos
d. 500 pesos
Ans: a. 100 pesos
33. Who sent money to Lencho?:
Ans: d. Postmaster
34. How much money was the postmaster able to arrange?:
a. 100 pesos
b. 90 pesos
c. 80 pesos
d. 70 pesos
Ans: d. 70 pesos
35. Lencho was not surprised to see the money in the envelope. It is because:
a. He was too sad to acknowledge it
b. He had unwavering faith in God
c. He was an ungrateful man
Ans: b. He had unwavering faith in God
36. How did he feel when he counted the money?:
Ans: d. Angry
37. Why did Lencho become angry when he counted the money?:
a. Lencho received fifty pesos less than what he had demanded from God
b. Lencho received thirty pesos less than what he had demanded from God
c. Lencho received sixty pesos less than what he had demanded from God
d. Lencho received seventy pesos less than what he had demanded from God
Ans: b. Lencho received thirty pesos less than what he had demanded from God
38. What did Lencho think of the post-office employees?:
a. Bunch of crooks
Ans: a. Bunch of crooks
39. What did Lencho ask for in his second letter?:
a. More money
b. Remaining amount
c. No Amount
Ans: b. Remaining amount
V. Short Answer Type Questions:
Q01. What did Lencho hope for?
Ans: Lencho hoped for rain.
Q02. Why did Lencho say 'the raindrops are like coins'?
Ans: Lencho said the raindrops like coin because they would be beneficial for his crops.
Q03. Why did Lencho write a letter to God?
Ans: Lencho wrote a letter to God for monetary help.
Q04. What were Lencho's feelings when the hail stopped?
Ans: When the hailstorm stopped Lencho became very sad but as he had strong belief in God, he decided to write a letter to God for some monetary help.
Q05. Why does the postmaster send money to Lencho?
Ans: To keep Lencho’s strong faith intact, the postmaster sends money to Lencho.
Q06. What was Lencho's reaction after getting the letter?
Ans: After getting the letter Lencho became very angry because the amount was less than his demand.
Q07. Where was the house located?
Ans: The house was located on the top of a low hill.
Q08. How did Lencho feel when it started raining?
Ans: When it started raining Lencho was excited.
Q09. Did the letter reach God?
Ans: No, the letter did not reach God.
Protect: Attack, Harm
VII. Use of words:
Imagine: I imagine that one day I would fly in the sky.
Pile: We should not pile rubbish in our houses.
Dusty: When he entered the house, I found his face dusty.
Nailed: He nailed his box before going out.
Twigs: I broke some twigs of a mango tree for pooja.
Create: To create a new thing is not an easy task.