Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Llano (YAH-no). Great savanna plains region of central Venezuela that represents nature in its wild and unruly state. Although beautiful and powerful, and therefore much like Santos’s nemesis, Doña Bárbara, the plains resist the order and discipline of any civilizing force. Danger lurks in the muddy, alligator-filled quagmires that threaten to consume interlopers whole. Rómulo Gallegos provides a poetic description of the enormous prairie. This region, with its unbroken horizon, conveys a sense of solitude and loneliness.


Altamira (ahl-tah-MEER-ah). Ranch on which Santos grows up and to which he returns after completing his university studies. Santos maintains an ambivalent relationship with his family estate. When he returns to Altamira, he finds it overgrown with neglect and thinks about selling it. Soon, however, he learns of Doña Bárbara’s underhanded schemes to cheat him out of his property, and decides to stay and put up a fight. Resolving to end the dispute by civilized means, he attempts to defend his claim legally, through the courts. Meanwhile, he struggles to tame the wild savanna, as well as stem Doña Bárbara’s greed. Eventually, he puts up a fence to mark the border of his property. Santos’s ultimate triumph over Doña Bárbara represents a victory for civilization over barbarism. In Spanish, Altamira signifies highmindedness. In the novel, the law prevails over unbridled power.

El Miedo

El Miedo (ehl...

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Doña Bárbara Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Alonso, Carlos J. “‘Otra sería mi historia’: Allegorical Exhaustion in Doña Bárbara.” Modern Language Notes 104 (March, 1989): 418-438. Examines symbolic figures and the presence of allegorical constructions in Gallegos’ novel.

Amaral, José Vázquez. “Rómulo Gallegos and the Drama of Civilization on the South American Plains: Doña Bárbara.” In The Contemporary Latin American Narrative. New York: Las Américas Publishing, 1970. Discusses the social background of the characters and provides information about the locale and how Gallegos used it in the development of his plot.

Brushwood, John S. “The Year of Doña Bárbara (1929).” In The Spanish American Novel: A Twentieth Century Survey. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1975. Analyzes the novel’s characterization and narrative techniques, and situates Doña Bárbara in the development of the Spanish American novel.

Englekirk, John E. “Doña Bárbara, Legend of the Llano.” Hispania 31, no. 3 (August, 1948): 259-270. Explains the actual terrain of the novel and compares the real characters with their fictitious counterparts.

Spell, Jefferson Rea. “Rómulo Gallegos, Interpreter of the Llanos of Venezuela.” In Contemporary Spanish-American Fiction. New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1968. An excellent starting point for a study of Doña Bárbara. Discusses the novel’s depiction of the struggle between civilization and barbarism.