Artemio Cruz (ahr-TEH-mee-oh crews), a wealthy, corrupt landowner in postrevolutionary Mexico. He remembers significant episodes of his seventy years of life while on his deathbed. In his memories, related out of chronological order, he searches for his own identity, which is, like the Mexican national identity, based on the rape of the mother. Cruz joins the Mexican Revolution determined to fight against the landowners and for the rights of the peasants who work on the land. He associates himself with the winning faction of General Álvaro Obregón and, during the first years of the revolution, meets Regina. After she is brutally killed, he becomes a selfish opportunist who never opens his heart to anyone. Two years later, he is captured. While awaiting execution, he discusses the meaning of life and revolution with Gonzalo Bernal. Cruz saves himself by offering to turn traitor. Later, he introduces himself to Gonzalo’s wealthy family and marries Gonzalo’s sister Catalina. That marriage gives him a ticket to the upper class. He comes to epitomize the class that he fought in the revolution. He abandons all morals and has a series of mistresses. He dies as an extremely prosperous man, surrounded by the people who despise him, lovers and business partners who want to use him, without any real friends and without any ideals.
Gonzalo Bernal (gohn-
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