Ernesto, a Revolutionary in the Making

The movie, The motorcycle Diaries , sets out to chronicle the travels of Ernesto “Che” Guevara and his friend, Alberto Granado. These two young men journeyed from Argentina and trekked across many miles of South America. Along their journey, Ernesto and Alberto came into contact with many poverty-stricken people. At one point, Ernesto yells at a mining contractor because the contractor does not care about the poor people who have come to try to get work in the mine. Throughout the movie, which is based on Ernesto’s actual diaries, you can feel and sense Ernesto changing. On the night of his birthday, Ernesto decides to leave his party and swim across a dangerous river just to be with the lepers in their colony. This shows that Ernesto had developed a caring heart for people who were sick or living in poverty.
The travels of Ernesto and Alberto were not out of the ordinary during this time period, “Guevara came of age in a time marked by regular movement of people across Argentina, from rural residents relocating to urban areas to short-term leisure travel,” (Eduardo Elena, 22.)It seems as if the whole country of Argentina was experiencing a period of unrest during this time, but Ernesto’s travels were unique in some areas. Ernesto’s travels did not conform to what society would accept. Prior to embarking on this journey, Ernesto was very close to completing his medical degree but conventional wisdom would not persuade him to stay and get his degree. Ernesto also began his journey with very little money which made his trip one of uncertainty. Elena believes that this was one way that Guevara began to show his non-conformist attitude toward conventional society.
As noted previously, Ernesto’s non-conformist travels had a profound impact on how he viewed the world around him. Ernesto was changing, “The experiences lived in those travels…helped produce Che Guevara, helped to create Che from Ernesto Guevara,”( Paul Drinot, 90.). During Che’s travels through Peru, the country was experiencing a coup that replaced democracy with a military dictatorship. As seen in the movie, a man named Pesce gave Guevara a piece of literature on Peruvian Reality. The movie then shows Guevara reading the book at various points as if to suggest this was where he got his inspiration for revolution. This is not true. Guevara did become influenced by this piece of literature, but the piece was given to him by his first wife much later.While the movie showed a source of Guevara’s inspiration, the director took liberties in the area of the situation to which it was given to Guevara. We know that Guevara was influenced by this literature because of his later book , Guerilla Warfare. In this book, Guevara acknowledges Pesce by saying, “To Doctor Hugo Pesce: who without knowing it perhaps, provoked a great change in my attitude toward life and society,” (Drinot, 95.). Guevara was forever influenced during his trip to Peru and these influences were pivotal in creating an idealist. Before his trip began, Guevara was known as Ernesto, but this journey forever changed him into Che.