The characters in this novel are prototypes. They represent two of the several factions involved in the social turmoil in El Salvador. The principal group depicted is the peasantry. Lupe, Chepe, Adolfina, and all the minor characters representing the peasantry share many of the same traits: They are courageous, long-suffering, wise, gentle, generous, and loving. Lacking even the most basic amenities of existence, they manage to create lives and family units which radiate love, harmony, and dignity. They support one another in their mutual opposition to the rapacity of the rich landowners and the brutality of the authorities; they acknowledge the authority of the Church and honor the priests, whether these priests recommend patiently bearing their burdens or offer help and instruction in ways to cooperate and unionize to improve their lot.
Lupe is the archetypical matriarch, warm and loving to her family, pious and generous to the Church, steadfast and courageous to Chepe, her beloved husband. Chepe, in turn, is bold in asserting his rights, a natural leader of the community, where he works diligently to improve the living conditions for his family and the farm workers in the union. He faces danger bravely, endures suffering silently, and, like his son, suffers martyrdom at the hands of the brutal guards.
Adolfina is an intense, idealistic girl who represents an impassioned new generation arising amid the repression and the turmoil. She is...
(The entire section is 559 words.)