Of Love and Shadows

by Isabel Allende

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What Does Francisco Leal represent in Of Love and Shadows?

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Set during in an undisclosed military dictatorship (presumably in Chile), Of Love and Shadows is a romantic novel that tells the love story of journalist and editor Irene Beltran and the handsome psychologist-turned-photographer Francisco Leal.

In the story, Francisco represents morality and idealism. As the sons of Spanish Marxist immigrants, Francisco and his brothers may have been raised in poverty, but their parents made sure to remind that they're loved and to teach them about the true values of life—kindness and respect. Thus, from an early age, Francisco develops his own ideals and knows that the just and right thing to do is be against the brutal and murderous regime and to resist it.

When his psychology practice fails and he's hired to work as a photographer for the same magazine company Irene works for, Francisco and Irene are paired together to investigate the curious case of a missing girl name Evangelina, who supposedly has psychic abilities.

During the turbulent investigation, Irene and Francisco gradually fall in love, despite Irene being engaged to an army captain, and Irene is shown the evil side of politics. She witnesses the horrors and the struggles the people go through at the hands of the dictators and understands how power and money can corrupt the heart and the mind.

Francisco helps her realize this, as he essentially shows her the difference between good and bad ideals. No matter how much violence and evil there is in this world, one must always stand on the side of humanity and help the oppressed and the powerless in whatever way they can, be it by fighting, exposing the sufferings of the people, or even just by listening to their tragic stories and making sure that they're heard. Thus, Francisco also represents loyalty and justice.

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