All Green Shall Perish is divided into two parts. Each depicts a crucial period in the life of Ágata Cruz, and virtually all the action of the novel takes place within Ágata’s anguished consciousness. The theme and tone are established in the somber description of the desolate landscape of Nicanor Cruz’s estancia at the beginning of part 1. The drought suffered by the barren land is mirrored in the barren relationship of Nicanor and Ágata Cruz, who remain childless after fifteen years of marriage and estranged from each other by their inability to communicate and by an ever growing sense of isolation and resentment. Nicanor has lost his battle with the sterile land, although he stubbornly refuses to admit the defeat which has transformed him into a withdrawn and bitter man. Ágata, more sensitive and intelligent than her husband, asks more from life than he does and would have liked to help him during the early years, but Nicanor’s pride would not allow him to accept her help. Ágata is suffering from depression and resents being condemned to live out a life that she would never have chosen.
From this vantage point in time, Ágata reexperiences her past life in a series of flashbacks: first, the lonely childhood with her alienated father in the small port of Ingeniero White; then, her precipitous decision to marry Nicanor Cruz, a limited and taciturn man whom she did not love but who provided her with an escape from the stifling atmosphere of her childhood and the...
(The entire section is 616 words.)