It is notable that the red of his wife's blood is the last real color that Rafael seems to register. Before that, she planted flowers and vegetables in her garden, harvesting the green vegetables to cook and serve with their dinner. She watered the peach trees, bringing them back to life enough that they could "burst" into bloom. Life with his wife seemed vibrant with sounds and colors—she would sing in the garden and while she bathed herself, and she made their corner of the pale llano erupt with varied hues. However, once the "small flow of blood began," leading to his wife's death in childbirth, Rafael's life seems to become rather colorless. His daughter is but a "small white bundle." He buries his wife and disappears, returning "pale" after several days, not caring whether he lives or dies. He "moves like a ghost" in the town and merely survives in the "desolate" llano.
On the day Rafael sees the cloud of dust on the road to his house, his wife's grave is "covered by windswept sand" and the peach trees that she had restored to health are now "almost dead." His daughter has tried to tend them, but she does not know how—he has kept this life from her, just as he has kept all joy in life from her as well as all knowledge of her mother or even his very voice or love. The landscape is "dry, tawny" and lifeless, except for her.
When he enters the home following the sight of the car driving into the ranch, he sees her on the bed, and she has clearly been raped. She points to "the stain of blood" on the sheets, and "red scratch marks" cover her shoulders. It seems to be the sight of her blood, the bright color of it, that first reminds him of her mother and eventually restores his ability to imagine color, to imagine joy, in his life again. It is only after he sees his daughter bathing as his wife used to that he offers to prepare her a garden, just as he had for her mother. This garden has become symbolic of the life and happiness that is possible in the midst of desolation and silence.