Hector Santinio (EHK-tohr sahn-TEEN-ee-oh), the youngest son of Mercedes Sorrea and Alejo Santinio. Born in New York City in 1951, Hector spends part of his childhood in Cuba with his parents. A near-fatal infection contracted in Cuba turns him into a sickly, lonely, and overprotected boy. Hector grows up in a dingy apartment in New York City resenting his overprotective, superstitious mother and his violent, alcoholic father. Although his parents are Cuban, he rebels against their Cuban ways and refuses to learn Spanish. In his mind, Cuba is associated with illness and with his unhappy home life. At the same time, however, he considers himself inferior to his father, whom he fears. Even after his father dies, Hector remains haunted by Alejo, who appears to him in dreams and visions. Only after Hector moves out of the apartment is he able to achieve a measure of autonomy and spiritual peace.
Alejo Santinio (ah-LEH-hoh), the head of the Santinio family. A mail carrier in Cuba, he meets and marries Mercedes Sorrea; shortly after the wedding, they immigrate to the United States in search of a better life. Although Alejo is at first full of hopes and ambitions, material success eludes him, and he resigns himself to being a cook in a large hotel, where he works from the mid-1940’s until his death twenty-five years later. Seeing other members of his family arrive in the United...
(The entire section is 631 words.)