One of the recurring themes in Argentine literature is the tense relationship of man with the desert and its laws. From the first chroniclers to the romantic writers, the dialectic of the subject and the space was problematized discursively by innumerable authors. Under that perspective and debtor of that tradition, César Aira breaks into the national scene with one of his first works to question and honor the nineteenth-century literary tradition. The following article analyzes the novel Ema la cautiva (1981) in relation to the imaginaries of power that deconstruct the vision of the desert, the captives, the Indians. We will try to point out the discursive mechanismsused by the author to achieve a novel and irreverent view of the Argentine literary tradition of the 19th century.