This beautiful, lyrical novel by Manlio Argueta follows one day in the life of Guadalupe Guardado and the women of her family, just before the commencement of the Salvadoran Civil War.
Guadalupe or Lupe, is a middle-aged peasant woman, 45 years of age. The novel recounts a very eventful day in her life commencing at five a.m. when she arises, until five p.m. when she lights candles as the darkness grows.
Each chapter divulges a segment of each of her duties for the day as she goes about cooking, doing household chores, caring for the children and working in the garden. Throughout, Lupe indulges in a monologue in which she speaks about the people and events that have shaped and informed her life.
Close to the end, Lupe is confronted by the authorities and she has to identify a horribly beaten-up man. She recognises that it is her husband but refuses to identify him to protect her family. She resolves to continue her struggle and resistance against the brutal authorities and encourages her granddaughter to do likewise.