Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Lazarillo’s surname comes from the peculiar circumstance of his birth: His mother happened to stay the night at the mill where his father was employed, and Lazarillo was born on the mill floor just over the river Tormes, after which he was named. He has reached his ninth year when his father is caught taking flour from customers’ sacks. After being soundly punished, the father joins an army that is preparing to move against the Moors. He becomes a mule driver for a gentleman soldier and is killed in action. Lazarillo’s mother opens an eating house near a nobleman’s estate, where she soon makes the acquaintance of Zayde, a black groom. Zayde begins to visit the widow and her son frequently; at first Lazarillo is afraid of the black man, but he quickly learns that Zayde’s visits meant food and firewood. One consequence is a bit displeasing: Lazarillo acquires a small, dark brother to look after.
The nobleman’s steward begins to notice that horseshoes and brushes, as well as other supplies used in the stables, are going missing. When he is asked directly about the thefts, Lazarillo tells all that he knows of Zayde’s peccadillos. In punishment, Zayde is soundly flogged, and boiling fat is poured on his ribs. To avoid further scandal, Lazarillo’s mother sets up a new eating house in a different neighborhood.
When Lazarillo is fairly well grown, his mother apprentices him to a blind man who wants a boy to lead him about. The elderly...
(The entire section is 1367 words.)
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