(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Richard, the narrator, recalls something that happened during his boyhood, adding comments that come from an adult’s perspective. His story is about what he learned one Sunday about his father and about a mysterious man from Chile. Initially, Richard was so afraid of this mysterious Chilean that when the man approached him and his friends, he and his buddies would run off in all directions.

Worried that this man, who was known as “el Brujo,” might be the devil, he mentioned this fear to his parents one Saturday evening, after the man had frightened him and his friends. His parents only laughed, however. Richard was offended because his mother had told him about the devil and his cunning. Being devout Roman Catholics, all three knew the theological implications of Richard’s charge. In trying to convince his parents that the Chilean was the devil, Richard used the religious teachings that his mother had given him as a basis for his reasoning. These led him to wonder aloud if God can control the devil. The heretical implications of this remark prompted his mother, and Richard himself, to stop the argument.

After the mother changed the subject by pointing out that the Chilean was, after all, rather odd, Richard’s father, Juan Manuel, revealed that he knew more about him; he had even visited the strange man’s house. El Brujo used cosmetics, such as pomades and perfumed lotions, and lived in a cluttered house with incense burning in every room. When the mother asked Juan Manuel why he never told her that he knew el Brujo, he replied with a look and a voice conveying the message of her “transgression,” and asked her when he ever told her everything that he does. Never, she replied.

The next day, Richard discovered that the family’s Sunday routine was to vary somewhat. On most Sundays, his hard-working father bathed, dressed, and went into town to the pool hall, hoping to find a Mexican with whom to discuss what he most loved: his native country. Although he...

(The entire section is 820 words.)