Nostromo (nos-TROH-moh), the nickname of Gian’ Battista (bah-TEES-tah), the “incorruptible” hero of the people who saved a valuable cargo of silver from revolutionists by hiding it on a barren island at the harbor entrance. Later, he realizes that it can be his because the lighter on which he transported the silver is reported sunk in a collision with a troopship at night. He grows rich slowly, by returning to the island occasionally for some of the silver. When a lighthouse is established on the island, he is still able to visit his hoard of silver because his friends, the Violas, are made keepers of the light. He chooses to love Giselle, the younger Viola daughter, rather than the more stable and idealistic Linda. Mistaken for a despised suitor of Giselle, he is shot by old Viola while on a night visit to see Giselle. Nostromo dies feeling that he has been betrayed and wishing to confess to Mrs. Gould. Because she refuses to listen, his secret is kept, and his famed incorruptibility remains intact.
Charles Gould, the manager of the San Tome silver mine, which he idealizes as a civilizing force that will bring progress to contented but backward Sulaco, a city in the Occidental Province of the Republic of Costaguana, as well as atonement for the death of his father. Yet silver, the incorruptible metal, is a corrupting influence politically and morally. It separates Gould from his wife Emilia, attracts politicians from the interior, and provokes a revolution.
Doña Emilia (eh-MEEL-ee-ah), Charles Gould’s wife, supplanted in his affections by his “redemption idea” of the mine. Childless, she is a victim of a “subtle unfaithfulness” created by the mine. In turn, she is gracious, kind, and unselfish and lives for others.
Martin Decoud (mahr-TA[N] deh-KEW), a young Creole intellectual, skeptic, and amateur journalist recently returned from Paris. He falls in love with patriotic Antonia Avellanos and fathers the idea of a separate Occidental Republic. He escapes from the revolutionists on the lighter bearing the silver, but he commits suicide when left alone on the island to face the silence and...
(The entire section is 989 words.)