Federico Robles (feh-deh-REE-koh RROH-blehs), a wealthy and powerful business tycoon. Robles is born to peons working on the Ovando hacienda but has the opportunity to go to Morelia with a priest to serve as his sacristan. They go to the Zamacona hacienda, where Robles meets fifteen-year-old Mercedes Zamacona, with whom he begins sexual relations. After the lovers are found out, Robles flees and never again sees Mercedes, whom he made pregnant. Robles fights in the Mexican Revolution and later becomes a wealthy lawyer working for North American companies. Robles finally meets his son, Manuel Zamacona, who is later killed by an unknown assailant. Robles marries the beautiful Norma Laragoiti to complete his success. Robles begins a sexual and emotional relationship with Hortensia Chacón, whose Indian mother was a servant in the Ovando household. Although Hortensia is a typist in Robles’ office, they do not meet until he begins to visit her in the hospital, where she is recovering after being beaten by her estranged husband. Robles takes care of Hortensia, who is now blind. She later stands by him when he goes bankrupt as the result of rumors and the dirty dealings of other businessmen. Norma, crazed by the thought of losing her wealth and social position, threatens to leave him. After Norma dies in a fire, Robles marries Hortensia, who is pregnant. The two withdraw to the countryside to grow cotton. Robles represents the corrupt businessman who sheds his false self to return to an authentic existence.
Ixca Cienfuegos (EEH-kah see-ehn-FWEH-gohs), a mysterious Indian who appears everywhere and knows all the characters. As he moves in the various social classes, he listens to...
(The entire section is 765 words.)