Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Menino de engenho. At the age of four, Carlos de Mello sees the bloody body of his dead mother shortly after his father killed her in an insane rage. The boy is taken from his city home in Recife to live with his maternal grandfather and aunts and uncles at the family sugar plantation, Santa Rosa. His father is confined to an asylum for the insane, where he dies, completely paralyzed, ten years later; Carlos never sees him again.
At Santa Rosa, Carlos begins a new life, the life of a plantation boy. Aunt Maria becomes his mother. On his first morning at the plantation, he is initiated into country life by learning to drink milk warm from the cow’s udder and to bathe in a pool by a waterfall. A few days later his cousins, two boys and a girl, arrive. The boys teach him wild country ways, such as how to ride bareback and how to go on secret swims. His cousin Lili, who is quiet, fair, and fragile, soon dies of a childhood illness.
One day, the famous bandit Antonio Silvino comes to Santa Rosa. Everyone fears what he will do, but he has come only to visit the colonel and pay his respects. Another time, the family has to abandon the plantation mansion and move to higher ground because the annual rains have turned into a flood that threatens the sugar mill and the house itself. The rains also leave behind rich soil that will mean a superior crop of sugar cane the next year. When a fire threatens the cane crop, all the plantation workers...
(The entire section is 1200 words.)
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