Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Don Nicola is an immigrant landowner who works hard on his farm and expects his laborers to do the same. Privately, his workmen and less ambitious neighbors criticize him because he makes his wife and children get up at two o’clock in the morning to begin their daily chores.
One of his neighbors is Don Cantalicio, an easygoing creole farmer deeply in Nicola’s debt. Próspero, his son, works for Nicola and casts many lingering glances in the direction of Victoria, his employer’s pretty daughter. Early one morning, coming to breakfast with the other laborers, Próspero finds Victoria at her work and seizes the chance to kiss her. She offers little resistance to his embrace. Later, one of the boys reports that he saw the Italian’s white ox in old Cantalicio’s pasture. Próspero is forced to defend his father against a charge of thievery.
With a payment of a loan of forty-five hundred pesos about to fall due, Cantalicio begs his neighbor for a year’s extension of credit. Nicola says that he intends to foreclose on Cantalicio’s property because his son Horacio, studying in Buenos Aires, wants the land for a farm. Cantalicio is unable to pay the debt, but he refuses to give up the property. When Próspero comments that his father should have planted wheat instead of trying to pasture cattle, Cantalicio turns on his son and accuses him of becoming a gringo—a despised foreigner.
Not long afterward María, Nicola’s wife,...
(The entire section is 1098 words.)
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