Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Doña Perfecta Polentinos

Doña Perfecta Polentinos (DOHN-yah pehr-FEHK-tah poh-lehn-TEE-nohs), a wealthy and intensely religious woman who lives in the provincial town of Orbajosa, Spain. She represents the old order of provincial Spanish life: reactionary traditionalism, country (versus city) values, regional (versus central) government control, and, above all, neo-Catholicism characterized by religious intolerance and often profound hypocrisy. Her religious convictions—indeed, her whole way of life—are challenged when her nephew and ideological foil Pepe Rey appears on the scene from Madrid. He offends local sensibilities at every turn and, worst of all, proposes marriage to Doña Perfecta’s daughter, Rosario, a prospect that Doña Perfecta simply cannot abide. Seeking to protect her way of life, as well as her family’s reputation, Doña Perfecta engages in a battle of wills with Pepe, whom she sees as a symbol of evil. She will stop at nothing to oppose him. In the end, as Pepe attempts to elope with Rosario, Doña Perfecta gives the order to have him killed. The rest of her days are spent in intense religious activity as a form of self-punishment and martyrdom. Given her behavior, Doña Perfecta’s name is, to say the least, ironic.

José “Pepe” Rey

José “Pepe” Rey (hoh-SEH PEH-peh rreh), a young, handsome, well-traveled, impeccably educated, and outspoken engineer from Madrid who symbolizes a modern, progressive, free-thinking Spain. He is therefore Doña Perfecta’s exact...

(The entire section is 693 words.)