Juan Rulfo paints a wonderful description of a "ghost town" in the city of Comala. His depiction of the town and the words used to describe it allow the reader to imagine the town similar to that of a graveyard. .
Juan Preciado returns to the town of Comala, which his mother had left when he was just a baby. His father is Pedro Paramo, the landowner, enforcer, and tyrant of the entire town. Comala is literally a ghost town; Juan is taken in by a series of maternal spirits that guide him through the history of the town and its death, brought on by Paramo. Paramo owns all the land, and with the willing assistance of the church, most of the town is dragged into corruption, philandering, and decay along with him. As landowner, Paramo comes to infect the land, and violence suffuses the entire town. .
Rulfo first describes Comala by the way the town looks and smells. On the way to Comala, Juan Preciado feels "the August wind blows hot" which smells "venomous with the rotten stench of saponaria blossoms. (4)" The weather in August would naturally, be hot during August, but the wind in personified here, allowing it to "blow" as if from a scorching furnace instead of the wind only being a warm breeze. Furthermore, the saponaria, according to The U.S. Department of Agriculture, is an evergreen which grows and blossoms year-round in 35 U.S. states. It grows in a tropical climate and has a white or pink flower; this decorative tree or large shrub was used by the Native Americans to make soap. Rulfo chooses this plant to indicate that the tree is an ornate and hearty tree but cannot even grow near this town of death. Likewise, the flowers are producing a "rotten stench" which is unusual because the flower was used to make soap and cleanse the body. The irony of the flower's awful smell foreshadows the similar state of once beautiful and thriving Comala. .
Juan Preciado's companion who takes him to Comala doesn't seem to have a positive opinion about the town either, "That town sits on the coals of the earth, at the very mouth of hell.