The Young and the Damned (1950)

Brief Intro

The Young and the Damned (Spanish: Los Olvidados) is a 1950 Mexican film directed by Luis Buñuel. It follows the grim story of a group of impoverished children in the slums of Mexico City. The film blends elements of realism and surrealism, offering a powerful social commentary on poverty and abandonment.

Literary Devices Used in The Young and the Damned

Let’s dive into the rich tapestry of literary devices used in this masterpiece. Below, you’ll find tables detailing specific scenes where each device is masterfully employed.

1. Symbolism

Movie SceneDevice Example
Pedro’s dream sequenceThe blind man’s appearance symbolizes fate and doom.
The caged birds in the marketRepresents the children’s entrapment in their socio-economic conditions.

2. Irony

Movie SceneDevice Example
Jaibo’s deathJaibo, the aggressor, ironically meets a violent end.
Pedro’s imprisonmentPedro’s effort to reform ironically lands him in jail.

3. Foreshadowing

Movie SceneDevice Example
Jaibo’s early confrontationsHinting at his eventual downfall.
Pedro’s interactions with his motherIndicates the tragic trajectory of his character.

4. Allegory

Movie SceneDevice Example
The entire filmRepresents the broader societal neglect of the poor.
Jaibo as a characterEmbodies unchecked aggression and societal decay.

5. Metaphor

Movie SceneDevice Example
The meat marketThe children as “meat” being consumed by society.
The falling chickenRepresents innocence and downfall.

6. Juxtaposition

Movie SceneDevice Example
Scenes of wealth and povertyHighlighting the stark contrast in living conditions.
Childhood innocence vs. brutalityEmphasizing the lost innocence of the children.

7. Hyperbole

Movie SceneDevice Example
Pedro’s emotional outburstsExaggerates his desperation and hopelessness.
The harsh treatment by adultsAmplifies the neglect and abuse faced by the children.

8. Motif

Movie SceneDevice Example
Recurring images of blindnessRepresents ignorance and neglect.
Dream sequencesEmphasize the internal turmoil of characters.

9. Pathos

Movie SceneDevice Example
Pedro’s interactions with his motherElicits deep emotional responses from the audience.
The children begging on the streetsHighlights their vulnerability and desperation.

10. Irony

Movie SceneDevice Example
Jaibo’s ruthless behaviorHe, too, becomes a victim of the cycle of violence.
The reform school scenesIntended to help, but it further entraps the children.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

We’ll delve into the main characters, analyzing how literary devices reveal their traits and development.

1. Pedro

SymbolismPedro’s character symbolizes the struggle for innocence in a corrupt environment.
ForeshadowingHis early actions hint at his tragic end.

2. Jaibo

AllegoryJaibo represents unchecked aggression and moral decay.
IronyDespite his dominance, he meets a violent end, highlighting the futility of his path.

3. Pedro’s Mother

PathosHer interactions with Pedro evoke sympathy, showing her as a symbol of the struggling poor.
HyperboleHer neglect of Pedro is exaggerated to highlight the pervasive social issues.

Character Dynamics The relationships between characters drive the narrative and underline the themes of poverty, neglect, and survival. Pedro and Jaibo’s relationship is a central focus, showcasing a cycle of violence and betrayal. Pedro’s relationship with his mother highlights the impact of familial neglect, while Jaibo’s interactions with others show how violence begets violence.

Thematic Analysis

We’ll explore how literary devices highlight the major themes of the film.

Poverty and Social Injustice

SymbolismThe slums and dilapidated environments symbolize social decay.
JuxtapositionContrast between rich and poor underscores social inequalities.

Loss of Innocence

MetaphorThe falling chicken represents lost innocence.
IronyChildren’s brutal actions contrast with their age, highlighting their lost innocence.

Cycle of Violence

AllegoryJaibo’s character embodies the perpetuation of violence.
ForeshadowingEarly violent encounters hint at the inevitable tragic outcomes.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

We’ll examine how visual and sound techniques complement the literary devices.

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismVisual imageryThe use of recurring symbols like cages and blind people reinforces thematic elements.
PathosSound designEmotional music and sound effects amplify the audience’s emotional response.
JuxtapositionCinematographyContrasting lighting and shot composition highlight social disparities.

Key Scene Analysis

Here are some key scenes where literary and cinematic techniques converge to create powerful moments.

  1. Pedro’s Dream Sequence
    • Link to scene
    • Breakdown: This surreal sequence uses symbolism (blind man) and metaphors (falling chicken) to explore Pedro’s fears and internal conflict.
  2. Jaibo’s Death


To wrap things up, here’s a fun and interactive quiz to test your understanding of the literary devices used in “The Young and the Damned.”


  1. What does the caged bird symbolize in the movie?
    • A) Freedom
    • B) Entrapment
    • C) Wealth
    • D) Innocence
  2. Which literary device is used to highlight social disparities in the film?
  3. What character does Jaibo allegorically represent?
    • A) Innocence
    • B) Wealth
    • C) Aggression
    • D) Freedom
  4. What technique is used to amplify pathos in the film?

Answers: 1-B, 2-B, 3-C, 4-B