Because Manolo, who has a long, thin physique, a long nose, and sad, brooding eyes, resembles his father, everyone in the town of Arcangel expects him to follow in his father's footsteps. Manolo's father was a famous bullfighter, and his reknown was such that a statue in his honor was built in the town square. Monolo, however, has no desire to pursue the path upon which his father found such success.
Manolo wants to be a doctor. He has a passionate desire to emulate a physician whom he once saw treat a young boy who had been gored by a bull. Manolo knows, however, that if he chooses to follow his own path, he takes the risk of being looked upon as a coward.
Manolo faces great pressure from his community to be like his father and take up the sport of bullfighting. The aficionados, six prestigious men in the city, take it upon themselves to guide Manolo in achieving what they perceive as his destiny. One of these respected sages, the Count de la Casa, even decides that Manolo will begin his training at the age of eleven, a year earlier than his father did.
Manolo's mother supports her son in his decision to follow his own heart. She tells him about his father, who despite his greatness always enjoyed his respites from training and his time in the ring. Manolo realizes that to defy the expectations of his community will take great courage, and seeks to find that courage within to declare his independence and be able to pursue his own dreams.