(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

In his struggle to wrest the Mexican presidency from Victoriano Huerta, Venustiano Carranza lays siege to Querétaro, a town to the north of Mexico City. Querétaro is in chaos. People flee to the train station, hoping to escape Carranza’s squadrons. Among those thousands, Marta, her two daughters, and her son seek space on the train; however, their efforts are fruitless. The crowd separates them until Rosita’s voice catches Marta’s and Matilde’s attention. Rosita and Rubén manage to convince a doctor to allow them to travel in the medical car. The doctor opposes Marta’s and Matilde’s traveling with them, but Matilde declares that she has permission from General Malacara, an officer in charge.

Marta and her family tell her fellow passengers about the siege by Carranza’s army. The army took over the best houses, schools, and even the churches for military use. The cathedral was stripped of all valuables and turned into a hospital. Everyone agrees that greed is the worst enemy of the revolution—and the reason for its failure. The conversation is interrupted by the arrival of General Malacara, who, to Rosita’s surprise, comes with two women. General Malacara was flirting with Rosita; she feels that his attentions are serious.

The train travels all night with no problems, but almost everyone fears an attack by Carranza’s forces. Marta and her daughters prepare breakfast for the doctor; they believe that he is an important man, or at least one with money. The men continue their political discussion. The train suddenly stops near Irapuato, a town southwest of Mexico City. During an attempt to learn why the train stopped, Don Sinforoso insults a soldier, who threatens the old man with a rifle. Don Sinforoso’s friends take him away from the soldier.

Rosita flirts with the doctor, who, surprised by her friendliness, confronts her with the rumor that General Malacara courted her. Malacara assures Marta that his young women companions are distant relatives. Their conversation is interrupted by news about reasons for...

(The entire section is 843 words.)