Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Luis Alberto Molina
Luis Alberto Molina (lew-EES ahl-BEHR-toh moh-LEE-nah), a window dresser imprisoned for the corruption of a minor. Molina is a homosexual who views himself as a woman; he even refers to himself as a girl. He believes that in any relationship he has with a man, that man should be dominant, while Molina, as the female figure, should be passive. He has an exceptional memory for films, and he entertains and distracts Valentin by telling the story lines of romantic films that he has seen. Warmhearted and caring, Molina nurses Valentin, who becomes ill after eating the doctored prison food. Molina then cleverly prevents Valentin from eating the prison food by having the warden give Molina food as a cover for Molina’s absences from the cell. Even Molina’s efforts to be released from jail are not out of selfishness; he is concerned about his mother’s weak heart. At the same time, he cannot betray Valentin, whom he has come to love. It is Molina’s selflessness (and perhaps his need to die as a “heroine”) that leads him to sacrifice himself to Valentin’s revolution.
Valentin Arregui Paz
Valentin Arregui Paz (vah-lehn-TEEN ah-RREH-gee pahs), a revolutionary who is being held indefinitely as a political prisoner. Valentin is in many ways the exact opposite of his cellmate, Molina. Valentin is a “man’s man,” and he believes that emotions are a weakness that, as a revolutionary committed to his cause, he cannot afford. A change occurs in his personality, however, when he finally admits that he is not pining for his equally politically committed girlfriend but, rather, that he intensely misses his former lover, Marta, who had no interest in politics, only in love. Molina’s storytelling helps Valentin to become gradually less repressed, and he becomes gentler toward Molina, culminating in the kiss he gives Molina the night before Molina’s release.