Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 624
The sheer multitude of characters serves to emphasize the novel’s focus on the interplay between characters and events. The short sections of the novel move from character to character. Sometimes the point of view changes even within the short sections. Nearly all these characters are developed fully, and they make up a wide array of bizarre, sometimes perverse individuals. The characters are clustered, and each cluster is eventually tied to other clusters of characters; this movement unravels the narrative in the novel, emphasizing each event’s and person’s interplay in the novel’s nonstop motion.
Though no character dominates the novel, Sterling emerges as its conscience. Sterling, appearing near the beginning and at the end of the book, is unique among the characters in that he enters Tucson by accident, wandering into town with no real purpose, and then leaves it behind, taking only the awareness he has gained. His eventual gain of understanding for the endurance of the Earth and the importance of tribal spirits is the very heart of the novel. At the beginning, Sterling is immersed in the white system, and his self-delusion is rooted in his European thinking, symbolized by his obsession with crime magazines. Sterling’s fascination with the white image of “Geronimo” (his favorite “criminal”) illustrates his inability to understand reality in a tribal sense. Silko educates the reader about Geronimo’s “true” existence, as Sterling should have been educated, through the oral stories of an Indian matriarch. The crime magazines and other trappings of white culture are abandoned once Sterling returns to his culture and begins to think in a more tribal-centered manner. Sterling leaves the corrupt world of the novel behind and returns to the Stone Snake and to his reservation. Once home, he recalls the old-time ways he was taught as a child, realizes the sacredness of the Earth, and knows that the Twin Brothers and the people will come from the south.
Seese’s fate is precarious but hopeful. Her addiction to cocaine and her connection to that world of depravity are directly responsible for the loss of her child, Monte. While she searches for Monte, she begins to wean herself from her addiction; she lapses back into drug use, but her experiences while using again prove so horrifying that she apparently commits to permanent cessation. Through her dreams, she eventually realizes that Monte is dead and lost to her forever. Seese continues to survive and, at the close of the novel, remains with Lecha, who has completed the transcription of the ancient manuscript and who predicts that the unrest of the people will be followed by natural disasters and civil war. Seese’s future and her beliefs regarding the prophecy are unknown, as she does nothing but cry during the final pages. Yet Silko has Lecha and Sterling rescue Seese from the crumbling Tucson, promising at least a potential future.
Silko creates the character of Lecha with many characteristics of Coyote, a Native American mythic character who is half creator, half fool and renowned for greediness and trickery. Her desertion of Ferro, her son, and her playfulness with the corrupt world—even while she translates the manuscript and believes in her grandmother Yeome’s teachings—display luck, creativity, and craftiness, those attributes of Coyote that maintain vitality even in the midst of desolation. Yeome has given Lecha a gift of psychic power, which she has used to gain wealth; like many old families of Tucson, she profits from others’ misfortunes, for she soon realizes that she has psychic powers only to discover the dead. Nevertheless, Lecha is the keeper of the ancient manuscript, the calendar that will predict the coming catastrophes. She holds the key to the prophecy, to the future.
Last Updated on January 20, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 258
Lecha (LAY-chay), the mother of Ferro, and sister of Zeta. She is a celebrated psychic and keeper of the sacred Lakota text of the almanac. Initially in drug-dependent retirement, she ends up identifying herself with visionary, militant ecologists. Her complicated evolution is one of the novel’s main structures.
Sterling, the gardener in Lecha’s compound, exiled from his Pueblo home on mistaken grounds of cultural violation. His safe return to his native place is an understated counterpart of the more global nature of Lecha’s ultimate commitment. He attempts to retain his integrity and self-respect.
Seese, Sterling’s opposite number in Lecha’s household. She has a guilty past. If Sterling’s problems have ethnic origins, Seese’s originate in her gender and in her helpless involvement with an exploitative male world of drugs and sex.
Menardo (may-NAHR-doh), a Mexican entrepreneur. He illustrates the destructive and dehumanizing nature of personal greed and the international economic order that fosters it. His rise and fall has darkly comic as well as more sinister elements. His story can be read as a parodic treatment of the novel’s other shape-changing motifs.
David, a photographer, Seese’s lover and the father of her child. His reckless treatment of both these dependents has its moral payoff in his involvement with pornography and Nazi-style futurists. These developments are not only a critique of David’s disregard for Seese and the subsequent obscene exploitation of their child but also contrast vividly with the nurturing character of Lecha’s commitment.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 2009
Al: Seese’s stepfather.
Albert Fish: “The Long Island Cannibal.” He is a notorious wealthy criminal of whom Beaufrey was enamored as a child.
Alegría: Señorita Alegría Martinez-Soto. A young, beautiful, and talented Venezuelan architect, she is Menardo’s second wife.
Amalia: Yoeme’s daughter, and mother of the twins Zeta and Lecha. She dies when the twins are fourteen years old.
Angelita La Escapía: A Mayan revolutionary, head of The Revolutionary Army of the People, a group dedicated to taking back the land for the indigenous people. She has a brief affair with Bartolomeo.
Angelo: Gangster Max Blue’s nephew from New Jersey. He is in charge of the Blue family’s racetracks and horses.
Arne: Judge Arne. He is a corrupt Federal District Court judge who engages in bestiality with his prize Basset hounds. Leah Blue pays him to issue favorable judgments in her water rights lawsuits with the Nevada Indians so that she can dig wells on sacred Indian land for her planned community—Venice, Arizona.
Aunt Marie: Sterling’s Aunt. She and her sister Nora raised Sterling on the Laguna Indian Reservation.
Awa Gee: A Korean computer genius and hacker employed by Zeta to collect information from her rival arms dealers. He is planning a cyber-takeover of the world.
Barefoot Hopi: A Hopi Indian that speaks for the spirits. He wants to unite all the indigenous people so that they can take back their land.
Bartolomeo: An arrogant, sexist Cuban communist adviser to the indigenous revolutionaries. He has affairs with Alegría and Angelita La Escapía. He is eventually executed by The Revolutionary Army of the People.
Beaufrey: A wealthy gay producer of pornographic films that feature violent and bizarre torture, sex change operations, snuff movies, and autopsies on living human beings. He is also David’s lover, and Serlo’s friend and business partner.
Bill Blue: Uncle Bill and Max Blue’s brother. He has raised Angelo Blue but refuses to be a part of the crime family.
Bingo: Younger son of Max and Leah Blue. A cocaine addict, he is in charge of the family pinball and vending machine franchises in El Paso, Texas.
Brito: “Old Brito.” He is Calabazas’ father-in-law.
Calabazas: A Mexican-Indian drug dealer and arms smuggler. He does business with Zeta. He is married to Sarita but is in love with her sister, Liria.
Cherie: A friend of Seese’s and a stripper at The Stage Coach Bar. She works for Tiny.
Clinton: An African-American veteran and former Green Beret with one foot. He works with Roy-Rambo as Trigg’s night watchmen and is secretly assembling his own faction within Roy-Rambo’s Army of the Homeless
Cucha: Zeta and Lecha’s aunt, their mother’s sister. She dies from rancid kidney stew.
David: A bisexual photographer from San Diego. He is in love with Beaufrey but has an affair with Seese so that he can have a child, Monte. He is also Eric’s former lover.
De Guzman: A Spanish invader of Mexico who made lamp shades out of Yaqui Indian skin and forced Indian women to sit on sharp-pointed sticks. He then piled sacks of silver on their laps until the sticks impaled them. Yoeme claims that the “Destroyer” Hitler copied his ideas from De Guzman.
Dr. Gris: Menardo’s family doctor. He performs abortions on young girls that Menardo has impregnated and then blackmails Menardo.
“G”: David’s art agent. He displays David’s gruesome photos of Eric’s suicide in his art gallery.
Guzman: Grandpa Guzman, Zeta and Lecha’s grandfather, Yoeme’s husband. He is more concerned with getting along with other whites than protecting the rights of indigenous peoples as he promised Yoeme’s family when he married her. Yoeme blames him for the many Yaqui deaths at the hands of whites who have stolen their land.
Dr. Guzman: A doctor who works for the Mexican police department.
Dr. V. M.: Beaufrey’s childhood psychiatrist.
El Feo: Twin brother of Tacho-Wacah. Along with Tacho-Wacah, he leads the Army of Justice and Redistribution. He is also Angelita La Escapía’s lover.
Eric: Seese’s gay friend from San Diego and David’s lover. Eric commits suicide when he realizes David does not love him anymore.
Father Lopez: A village priest that helps Uncle Federico arrange to molest Zeta and Lecha when they are young girls.
“Failed Geologist”: Lecha and Zeta’s father. He leaves his daughters the ranch in the Tucson mountains when he dies.
Federico: One of Lecha’s and Zeta’s uncles, their mother’s brother. He molests the girls as children.
Ferro: Lecha’s gay son. He is abandoned as a baby and raised by Zeta. Ferro has an affair with Paulie but is obsessively in love with Jamey, an undercover policeman who Ferro thinks is a gay college student.
General J: An army general who oversees security operations for Menardo’s Universal Insurance Corporation. He is an expert on castration and sterilization techniques and believes illegal refugees should be gunned down from airplanes and helicopters like coyotes or wolves.
Greenlee: A racist arms dealer who works with Menardo and Zeta.
Iliana: An aristocratic Mexican woman from one of Tuxtla’s founding families. She is also Menardo’s first wife. She slips on the marble staircase in their new home and dies.
Keemo: An ecologist that works with Leah on developing her planned community, Venice, Arizona.
Leah: Gangster Max Blue’s wife, and the Lover of Eddie Trigg, the Realtor in a wheel chair. She works as a real estate developer in Tucson.
Lecha Cazador: A well-known half Indian psychic, the twin sister of Zeta, and Ferro’s mother. She returns to Tucson to transcribe The Almanac of the Dead. She tells everyone she is dying of cancer.
Liria: Calabazas’ sister-in-law and true love.
Marilyn: Angelo’s girlfriend. She leaves Angelo for Tim.
Menardo Pañson: A chubby part-Indian Mexican who hides his ancestry by explaining that his flat nose is a result of a boxing accident. He is a self-made billionaire, the head of Universal Insurance. He insures the wealthiest Mexicans, most of whom are white. He provides exclusive protection, which includes planes and his own private commandos.
Max Blue: A member of a powerful New Jersey gang family who becomes impotent after surviving a hit in which his uncle Mike is killed. Max is an assassin who moves to Arizona “for health reasons.” He secretly runs his kill-for-hire business from the Tucson municipal golf course where he is struck by lightning and dies.
Mike Blue: “Uncle Mike.” He is a New Jersey gang lord and the uncle of Max Blue. He is gunned down in front of Max.
Monte: Seese’s and David’s baby. He is kidnapped by David to get him away from the drug-addicted Seese. David’s lover Beaufrey kidnaps him from David. Monte is later killed.
Mosca: A crazy Mexican Indian drug dealer and addict. Also known as Carlos or “The Fly,” he is friends with Root and Calabazas’ cousin.
Mr. B.: An ex-military arms dealer and business associate of Menardo and Max Blue.
Mr. Coco: Owner of Mexico Tours. A smuggler, he was Zeta’s lover for a while.
Nico: General J’s grandson.
Old Man: Menardo’s grandfather. He is a Mexican Indian with a “flat nose” who tells the young Menardo stories of “The Old Ones” and of the epoch of Death-Eye Dog.
Paulie: Zeta’s hired hand and Ferro’s friend and lover. He is an ex-convict.
Peaches: Roy’s girlfriend. She works for Trigg’s Plasma International. She tells Roy that Trigg is storing human organs in his cold lockers.
Perry: A corrupt policeman who sells information. He works with Jamey on a gay beefcake calendar called Cop Cakes that features Tucson police officers poised suggestively.
Popa: Zeta and Lecha’s aunt, their mother’s sister. She forces Yoeme to live in a shack while she lives in Yoeme’s larger home. She is killed in a train wreck.
Portillo: The head of the architectural firm where Alegría works.
Ringo: One of Lecha and Zeta’s uncles, their mother’s brother.
Root: Lecha’s biker boyfriend. He is part Indian, a drug dealer, a rum runner, and a smuggler. He is twenty-one years younger than Lecha. He is crippled from a motorcycle accident.
Root’s mother: A Tucson debutante who tries to deny her Mexican ancestry. She keeps the insurance money from Root’s accident and Root grows up hating her and his entire family.
Rose: An Eskimo woman who befriends Lecha in Alaska. Her younger siblings burned to death when their parents left them alone one night to go drinking. Rose has visions of her dead siblings.
Roy/Rambo: A homeless white veteran and former Green Beret. He works for Trigg but is secretly assembling The Army of the Homeless that will help the indigenous people take back their land.
Sarita: Calabazas’ wife. She has an affair with the village priest.
Sean: A young corrupt police chief in Tucson. He cooperates with Max Blue, the senator and Judge Arne.
Seese: A young blonde woman hired by Lecha as a nurse. Seese helps Lecha transcribe The Almanac of the Dead onto a computer. She comes to Tucson to search for her missing baby, Monte. She is a drug addict and a drunk who sobers up while she searches for her son.
Serlo: A wealthy asexual Colombian who lives with Beaufrey. He has a “finca” (ranch) in Colombia where he is collecting and storing his semen to eventually repopulate the world with his aristocratic blood. He believes that people of color are “trash.”
Sister Josefa: She is a Catholic nun, and Lecha’s and Zeta’s school teacher.
Snell: A Hollywood producer who manipulates Sterling and films an Indian relic, the giant stone snake, against the warnings of the tribal elders.
Sonny Blue: Son of Max and Leah Blue. He has an affair with Menardo’s wife, Alegría.
Sterling: Zeta’s gardener. A Laguna Indian, he has been expelled from the reservation by the tribal elders for not preventing a Hollywood film crew from filming the giant stone snake, a sacred Indian relic.
Tacho-Wacah: Menardo’s Indian chauffeur and El Feo’s twin brother. He is called Wacah by the spirit macaws. He leads the Army of Justice and Redistribution with El Feo and Angelita La Escapía.
Teddy: Cherie’s husband. A cowboy, he does not make enough money to allow Cherie to stop stripping.
The Chief: The corrupt chief of police in Tuxtla. One of Menardo’s friends, he sells tapes of police interrogations to an Argentine pornographic producer who turns them into pornography.
Tiny: Owner of a bar called The Stage Coach where Seese used to be a nude dancer. He is killed in a drug raid on his club.
Trigg: A shady Tucson real estate developer who is wheelchair bound. Eddie Trigg has an affair with Leah Blue. He deals in human body parts, plasma, and tissue that he collects from homeless men whom he kills.
Vico: The Tuxtla police chief’s brother-in-law. He helps the chief sell videotapes of police interrogations to an Argentine pornographic film company that turns the tapes into perverted and sadistic pornography.
Wilson Weasel Tail: A Lakota Indian who, like author Leslie Marmon Silko, dropped out of law school to become a poet because the people “don’t need any more lawyers, they need poets.” His character is Silko’s alter ego, and his lengthy rants against the “Destroyers” represent Silko’s own beliefs. He attends the International Healers Convention and is an important head of the indigenous movement to take back the land from the European colonizers.
Yupik Woman: An old Eskimo woman who casts spells on airplanes and causes them to crash. She befriends Lecha in Alaska.
Zeta: Lecha’s twin sister, and a drug and arms dealer who operates out of her ranch outside of Tucson. She raises her sister’s son, Ferro.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 8180
Sterling is a Laguna Indian who is introduced in “Part I: The United States.” The novel begins and ends with Sterling, and his story provides the framework for the other stories that eventually intersect with each other throughout the novel. He leaves the reservation to join the Army and after World War II, he works off the reservation for quite some time. He returns to the reservation to work on the uranium mine that is being dug on tribal land and to care for the elderly aunt who raised him. A movie also is being filmed on the reservation and the tribal elders appoint Sterling to keep an eye on the film crew to make sure they do not film any sacred Indian relics, especially the giant stone snake that has recently been dug up as a result of the mine excavation. Sterling fails in his responsibilities, however. He has befriended the Hollywood producer. In what Sterling believes is typical Indian naïveté, he trusts the producer to keep his word. Sterling is busy reading his crime magazines rather than checking up on the film crew, so by the time he realizes what has happened, the film crew has already begun filming the giant stone serpent behind his back. As a result, the tribal elders expel Sterling from the reservation. They unjustly accuse Sterling of conspiring with the cocaine-snorting Hollywood people. They believe he has taken a bribe so that he, too, can buy drugs. Sterling has lived off the reservation for too long and the tribal elders do not trust him. He is an easy scapegoat. Unable to convince them of his innocence, a defeated Sterling reluctantly leaves the reservation and heads for Phoenix. When he mistakenly fails to re-board the bus after a brief stop in Tucson, Sterling decides to remain in Tucson because of its colorful crime history.
Sterling is familiar with the legends surrounding the great stone snake from stories his aunts and other “old ones” have told him, but because he has lived in the white man’s world for so long, he does not realize the significance of the snake’s reappearance. The snake possesses spiritual knowledge and the Hollywood film crew that wants to film it symbolizes the “Destroyers” who want to turn the sacred relic into another money-making scheme. The spirits send Sterling back into the white man’s world as an observer. Sterling’s banishment returns him to a non-tribal society where he finds work as a gardener and landscaper on Zeta’s “drug manufacturing” ranch outside of Tucson. Sterling becomes the symbolic Native American caretaker of the land, a custodian who understands that the people cannot be separated from the land and its creatures. The land he is caring for, however, is dried up, nothing but “rocks and sticker trees”. Metaphorically dried up, too, are the drug-addicted people that surround him. As he tries to care for the land, he also observes the people.
Sterling emerges off and on throughout the novel in a caretaking role for the young white woman, Seese, whom Zeta’s twin sister Lecha has brought to the ranch to help transcribe The Almanac of the Dead onto a computer. Sterling befriends Seese and watches out for her as she does her best to self-destruct. He observes silently as both the land and the people continue to decay physically and spiritually. Sterling disappears for many chapters and then reappears at the end of the novel, a changed man. He has witnessed the birth of the revolution, just as the spirits have intended. He now understands why the giant stone snake has returned. The snake is looking to the South, towards the direction from which the indigenous people will come. The snake has come to remind the people that they must take back the land. The snake does not care about the poison of the uranium mine. Humans will only destroy themselves with nuclear power.
Seese, a drug addict, is a young white woman who has been living with several homosexual men, Serlo, Beaufrey, Eric, and David. One of these men, David, is the father of her baby, Monte. David is also Beaufrey’s lover and has been Eric’s lover as well. David kidnaps Monte to protect him from the drug-addicted Seese, but David’s homosexual lover Beaufrey becomes jealous of David’s attention to the baby and kidnaps Monte from David. Monte then disappears and Seese travels from San Diego to Tucson to enlist Lecha’s aid in finding out whether Monte is dead or alive. Seese has seen an interview on television in which the psychic Lecha explains how she is able to help find people. Seese agrees to help Lecha transcribe The Almanac of the Dead onto a computer in exchange for information about her baby.
Although she is disturbed and out of balance, Seese is the only white character in the novel who reaches across racial, social and sexual boundaries. With Seese, Silko illustrates that it may be possible to overcome culture clash but it must begin on a personal level. Seese reaches out to Lecha for help in finding Monte but ends up being protected by Lecha. In turn, Seese not only helps Lecha transcribe the ancient almanac but serves as Lecha’s nurse as well. Seese’s lover, David, is a homosexual using her merely to make Beaufrey jealous, but Seese believes she loves David. In addition, Seese reaches out to befriend the homosexual Eric and they become close friends. Seese is devastated by Eric’s suicide after David rejects him. Seese also reaches out to befriend the Native American Sterling while she is living on Zeta’s ranch and Sterling looks out for her like a father. To further illustrate the possibilities of breaking down cultural borders that humans impose upon themselves, Seese is the only white woman allowed to add her own narrative to The Almanac of the Dead. The power of the ancient almanac helps Seese refrain from cocaine while she is transcribing the pages and she enters memories of her son into the almanac, beautifully and poetically expressing her grief. “The colors of the lawn and house behind are indistinct,” she writes, “milked to faded greens and browns. I know I will never hold you again.”
As the novel ends, Lecha and Sterling are escaping from an assault on the ranch. The two Indians, Lecha and Sterling, reach across cultural borders to take the white woman Seese with them to protect her from the police who have given Seese seventy-two hours to “gas up and get out of town.” The police warn Seese to keep quiet about a double murder she has just witnessed. Along with bar owner and drug dealer Tiny, an undercover police officer, “one of their own,” has been framed and killed. The undercover agent is Jamey, who has been posing as a rich gay “college boy” and having an affair with Lecha’s homosexual son, Ferro.
Seese comes to the conclusion that Monte is dead. Her grief and guilt over being stoned and drunk the night Monte was kidnapped have profoundly affected her. In spite of the fact that Seese is an addict who has behaved irresponsibly and wantonly, using sex to get what she wants, she is one of the few characters with whom readers can sympathize. Lecha takes Seese with her to South Dakota where they both join the pan-Indian movement.
Beaufrey is one of several powerful white male homosexuals in the novel. Silko uses homosexual men as metaphors for the greed, brutality and misogyny she believes characterizes Western culture. They are the “Destroyers” of the era of Death-Eye Dog. They prey upon the weak so that they can become stronger. They believe themselves superior in every way. As long as they are thriving, nothing else matters. Although Beaufrey is a homosexual, he derives sexual pleasure from power and manipulation, not the physical act of sex itself. When he cannot overpower or manipulate a lover, he loses interest in him sexually.
Beaufrey is sometimes referred to as “the Argentine,” an international pornographer whose films feature sexual torture and mutilation. He is a sociopath and a misogynist who is incapable of emotion. As a child, Beaufrey was perfectly content to lie in his crib “sucking on his own hand,” blissful only when he was all alone. His total indifference to other human beings, including his family, so frightened his parents that they began taking him to a psychiatrist when he was only three years old. Beaufrey grows up to become an egomaniac that envisions other humans solely as objects to feed his perverted pleasures. When he tires of them, he disposes of them in cruel ways. Young men impressed with Beaufrey’s wealth and power easily fall into his trap and one of his favorite traps is to play devious mental games with them until they wind up committing suicide, which bizarrely turns him on.
Beaufrey’s psychotic self-absorption is symbolic of a capitalistic system that objectifies human beings and reduces them into disposable commodities. Beaufrey pits people against each other for his own gratification. He engineers a three-way homosexual relationship between himself, Eric and David and enjoys watching as Eric slowly self-destructs and ultimately commits suicide. Beaufrey encourages David, a photographer, to take pictures of the suicide scene. They are worth big money on the open market. Sucked in by the lure of money and success, David agrees and launches a successful art show featuring the bloody suicide photos.
Beaufrey uses Seese to further manipulate David, and Seese becomes pregnant twice. Beaufrey coerces Seese into getting an abortion the first time, but the second time, she insists on keeping the baby. David becomes obsessed with the baby that he insists “looks just like him.” In an elaborate plot that involves kidnapping the baby twice, Beaufrey pretends to help David locate his son, whom Beaufrey secretly has slaughtered. When Beaufrey tires of David, he arranges to have Serlo show photographs of the slaughtered and dissected baby to David. David ends up causing his own death in a horseback riding accident. Beaufrey is delighted by the gory pictures of David’s death. They are worth big money on the open market.
Serlo is Beaufrey’s wealthy Colombian “blue blood” friend and business partner. Theirs is a powerful partnership, symbolic of the partnership between colonialism and capitalism. They are the evil male force behind the Death-Eye Dog era of prophecy. Serlo is another of the powerful white male homosexuals in the novel but he is a homosexual in spirit only. He is not truly Beaufrey’s lover because he is asexual. He believes sex is dirty and unnecessary. Serlo and Beaufrey are both sociopaths and misogynists obsessed with racial purity. His character is outrageous and depraved, and almost unbelievable, because what he represents is outrageous, depraved and almost unbelievable. Serlo is the worst example of a human being living in the era of “Death-Eye Dog,” a symbol of personal violence and moral perversion that is a result of the “Destroyers” inhabiting the land for so long. The “Destroyers” who have stolen the land are not only poisoning it with toxic substances but they are also infecting their fellow “Destroyers” with moral perversions and sexual appetites that are worse than those of wild dogs. Serlo’s distorted morality symbolizes the distortions that capitalism and colonialism have unleashed upon the earth. He is a metaphor for the dehumanizing forces that result from the wealth imbalances inherent in capitalism that lead to exploitation and degradation of people as well as the land. Serlo symbolizes the solipsism and greed that Silko believes characterize Western culture.
Along with Beaufrey, Serlo ascribes to the theory of eugenics in which selective breeding is used to improve the human gene pool. Under the tutelage of his aristocratic but perverted grandfather, Serlo has learned that sex is not only filthy but unnecessary for procreation. Blue bloods can preserve their aristocratic bloodline by storing their semen in sterile stainless steel tubes for future use when the “swarms of brown and yellow human larvae called natives” will someday overrun the land. Serlo believes that chaos is coming. He is preparing “Alternative Earth Modules” to launch into outer space. The modules will hover over earth until the “yellows, browns and blacks” have completely slaughtered one another. Then he will return to earth and repopulate it with little clones of himself. Women will not be necessary because humans can be grown in test tubes with the stored semen. Serlo wants to eliminate women from the reproductive process because he believes that “even the most perfect specimen” could be totally ruined by the defects of the child’s mother. Serlo has thus perverted the procreative purpose of sex into something unnatural, debased and outrageous.
Trigg is another of the powerful white male homosexuals in the novel. Trigg is “the realtor in a wheelchair,” a rich man obsessed with being able to walk again. Trigg’s character is also a metaphor because as a homosexual, he is ambivalent and may not even be capable of real sex as he is paralyzed from the waist down. He has sex with men and women and is having an affair with Leah Blue, the wife of the powerful gangster Max Blue. Trigg is only able to sustain sex with Leah with manipulation and artificial means, but he tries to convince Leah that he has “mental orgasms.” Trigg uses sex as a means to an end. He has sex with Leah in order to coerce her into divulging information about her own real estate dealings. He has sex with homeless men so that he can drug them and drain their blood. He is also a cannibal. Leah’s husband Max has nicknamed him “Steak in a Basket.” As with Beaufrey and Serlo, Trigg uses sex is a means of objectification and because he also is a man, his character symbolizes what Silko believes is the Western male insolence and misogyny that is part of colonialism and capitalism.
Trigg is just as incapable of “feeling” as Beaufrey and Serlo, but his lack of feeling is also physical. As a result of not being whole, Trigg must prove himself in other ways. He is a braggart who constantly tries to convince people of his importance. Like Serlo, he is also perverting science by marketing blood plasma and body parts. He is convinced that money can buy enough science to eventually make him walk again. Trigg is buying up Tucson real estate from poor people, having it re-zoned, and re-selling it to the rich. He builds his blood plasma centers because they drive down the real estate prices more efficiently than moving in “Blacks or Mexicans.” Trigg is a metaphor for what Silko believes is Western culture’s bottomless pit of exploitation. Such horrible and debased characters are meant to illustrate the horrible and debased nature of colonialism and capitalism.
The Beaufrey and Serlo storylines are left unresolved, but Trigg’s ironic demise is as disturbing as his life. He is killed by two of his employees, Clinton and Roy/Rambo, leaders of The Army of Homeless Veterans. His dead body is packed into one of his own freezer units with the other “cuts of meat” he has been storing, symbols of his stored wealth. As Trigg disappears from the narrative, it is implied that his body along with the other “meat” will be used to feed the homeless during the coming revolution, a cannibal who will become cannibalized himself.
Tacho and El Feo
Tacho and El Feo are twin Mayan brothers who are introduced in “Part Two: Mexico.” Their characters reflect the hero twins of Mayan mythology, Hunahpu and Xbalanque. These mythical hero twins are brave and crafty and constantly defeat their foes by outsmarting them. They obtain their wisdom from spirits in the form of macaws. Tacho and El Feo are separated as babies because twins are bad luck. They have been raised by two separate families and come together again as adults, reunited for the cause. Tacho is working as a chauffeur for the wealthy mestizo Menardo when he first appears in the novel. Like the Laguna Indian Sterling, however, he at first remains in the background watching, listening, observing. Menardo’s first wife has allowed him to keep his pet macaws on their land, and when she dies, Menardo continues this practice. Although Menardo is a mestizo who denies his Mexican-Indian heritage, it is this part of him that secretly fears and reveres Tacho. Menardo’s second wife Alegría believes that Tacho is a spy, and it turns out that she is correct. Tacho is the eyes and ears of his twin brother El Feo, who is head of the Revolutionary Army of the People getting ready to take back the land. Tacho and El Feo are father figures to the indigenous people in Mexico.
Tacho is the spiritual father. He has the gift of interpreting dreams. The spirits who inhabit his pet macaws instruct him on how to trick Menardo. The spirit macaws call him "Wacah." The superstitious Menardo often comes to Tacho with questions about his dreams, but acting on instructions from the spirit macaws, Tacho’s interpretations are manipulative lies meant to lead Menardo to his demise. Like the twin brothers of Mayan myth, Tacho is tricky, lying to Menardo “every chance he gets.” Menardo pays Tacho to keep quiet about his dreams because he remembers that Tacho has told him, “Enemies could use your dreams to destroy you.” Ironically, Menardo comes to trust Tacho and in so doing, his dreams are used to destroy him. Menardo shares his dream with Tacho: an unearthed skeleton with a necklace of green stone beads was unable to harm him. Tacho asks if the skeleton was armless and legless and Menardo is surprised that Tacho knows this. Tacho explains that Indians believe they should not leave the dead with “feet or hands to chase you and grab you” but Menardo, “tired of Tacho’s superstition,” spitefully reveals that no, the skeleton did not harm him because he was wearing his expensive bullet-proof vest. Menardo had not intended to reveal this secret to Tacho, but once revealed, he decides to test the vest and impress his friends. He forces Tacho to shoot him in order to prove the invincibility of the vest, but Menardo has overestimated the vest. It is defective, and when Tacho shoots him, Menardo is killed.
Tacho had not wanted to shoot Menardo and he certainly did not intend to kill him. He tells himself that the only time it is okay for an Indian to kill a mestizo is when the white man gives the order. Tacho’s character is therefore symbolic of those indigenous people that are fighting back behind the scenes, with intrigue and with patience. They are not concerned with how long it will take and they do not want to shed blood if it is not necessary. Not taking any chances, however, Tacho disappears after Menardo’s death. It is time to join his brother.
Tacho’s twin brother El Feo is also fighting back, but with force. He is the physical father of the people. Tacho has no physical relationships in the novel. His character is cerebral and spiritual, but El Feo is well-known for his sexual prowess and masculinity. He is having an affair with Angelita La Escapía. The combination of El Feo and Tacho represent dual philosophies regarding how to take back the land. Should the revolutionaries fight with their minds and spirits or with their bodies? Or, will they need all three? El Feo has aligned himself with the militant Angelita La Escapía who is not willing to wait until the spirit macaws tell Tacho the time is right. The spirits tell Tacho “they must not shed blood or the destruction would continue to accompany them.” El Feo is conflicted. He understands Tacho’s reliance on the spirit macaws, but in his heart he believes Angelita La Escapía is right.
Lecha and Zeta
Lecha and Zeta are twin sisters, mestizas who are introduced in “Part I: The United States.” Like Tacho and El Feo, they have each been chosen by the spirits for different assignments in the battle to take back the land. They are the mother figures of the indigenous people. Zeta is the physical mother and Lecha, the psychic, is the spiritual mother. When the girls are young, their Yaqui Indian grandmother, Yoeme, mysteriously reappears in their front yard. They do not recognize her. Yoeme abandoned her family long ago and the now her grown children do not want her back. Her little granddaughters, however, are delighted with her so “Yoeme could not be stopped.” She tells the girls that although she left her family, she has secretly been returning to keep an eye on them, because they had been chosen. She wants to make sure they are worthy. Yoeme tells the girls about the ancient text with which she has been entrusted, The Almanac of the Dead. The girls will be its new caretakers. They must transcribe the stories so that they can be shared. There is important information in the ancient almanac that the people must know before taking back the land. Yoeme gives Lecha most of the pages, but she gives Zeta the most important page, “the notebook of the snake,” that is key to deciphering all of the others. Yoeme expects the girls to cooperate and care for each other throughout their lives.
Yoeme, Lecha and Zeta all have March birthdays, “the same month the coyotes whelp,” Yoeme reminds them. To Native Americans, the coyote is a trickster, a shape-shifter and a transformer. The twins call the years from when they were teens until they turn sixty their “coyote years.” This is because the girls are constantly traveling from place to place and from lover to lover. They transform themselves many times and they hold many different jobs. Zeta eventually returns to the ranch outside of Tucson because the isolated ranch is a perfect place to conduct her drug and weapons smuggling business. Lecha has a child but soon abandons him at the ranch for Zeta to raise. Lecha goes on to become a celebrity talk-show psychic. Throughout their lives, the girls do not lose sight of their task to translate the Almanac. They know they will do it someday. As they get older, however, the memories of Yoeme return with frequency and Lecha finally decides it is time.
Like Tacho and El Feo, Zeta and Lecha have different skills. When they were children, Zeta was able to discern what people were thinking, to know what was going to happen before it occurred. She could talk to snakes. As they grow older, however, Lecha develops her own psychic skills. She is able to will things to happen. She sells this skill to people wanting vengeance on others. She is also able to locate dead people. The spirits talk to her in her dreams. She sees pictures that lead her to the dead bodies. She uses this ability to help the police. Both women come to the simultaneous realization that it is finally time to use their skills for what they were intended. They both remember Yoeme’s almanac when they turn sixty years old. Lecha returns to the ranch just as Zeta has finished transcribing her page of the Almanac.
Lecha and Zeta are now part of the caretakers who, over the years, have been entrusted with the peoples’ history. They have been chosen by the last caretaker, Yoeme, to be spiritual mothers of the people. Their task is to protect and preserve the history of the people through The Almanac of the Dead. They both attend the International Holistic Healers Convention in Tucson where indigenous people are meeting in room 1212 to plan the takeover.
Menardo and Alegría
Menardo and Alegría both represent rich white capitalists but one represents women and the other represents men. Menardo uses his money and his perceived machismo to squeeze what he wants out of life: power and sex. Alegría uses beauty, sex, and intelligence to squeeze what she wants out of life: money and security. Alegría’s intelligence manifests itself through manipulation and in the end, she survives, but Menardo does not. Perhaps she survives because she has two things Menardo lacks: she is a woman and she used to be a communist sympathizer in her youth. Alegría has eschewed her former life and beliefs to become the wife of a wealthy Mexican tycoon. The more she is pulled into this life of luxury by her expensive alligator shoes and matching purses, the more she grows to hate the one remaining vestige of her former life, her lover Bartolomeo, who is critical of what he believes is her traitorous betrayal of communist views. Alegría is not Angelita, however, and she assures Menardo that her youthful associations should not be used to hinder his important and lucrative dealings with the current government.
Menardo hides his Indian ancestry by explaining that he came by his “flat nose” through a boxing accident. He is a self-made millionaire, the head of Universal Insurance, whose clients are mostly wealthy white Mexicans. Menardo remembers his Indian grandfather’s stories about the “old ones” but the richer he becomes, the further away he strays from these “truths.” While he tries to brush off his Indian chauffeur Tacho’s superstitions and dream interpretations as “ignorant” when they do not reinforce his own beliefs, he nevertheless fears his dreams and pays Tacho extra money to keep quiet about them. Menardo's first wife, Iliana, is a wealthy aristocrat whose family agrees to the match because they have lost their wealth. They are leeches, civil to Menardo only when they want a loan or a job for one of their children. They blame Menardo for Iliana’s death, even though it is an accident. Iliana is extravagant and foolhardy and insists on building a mansion in a beautiful rain forest so she can brag to her friends and family. Most of her days are spent at the country club, playing cards, gossiping and drinking cocktails while Menardo plays golf. They carry on a selfish, idyllic life while people are starving around them. Iliana slips and falls on the elegant marble staircase she has designed for her mansion. She has insisted that it be polished to such a high sheen that it becomes unsafe. Her extravagance becomes the instrument of her death.
Alegría is the architect that designs Menardo’s mansion. Although she has warned Iliana that the staircase should not be so slippery, she is blamed for causing Iliana’s death so that she could marry Menardo herself. She has been having an affair with Menardo. Like the other dutiful wives, Iliana has always ignored Menardo’s affairs, until Alegría. She has known about the other affairs, but Alegría has completely deceived her. Jealous of her overwhelming wealth and tired of her bragging, her fellow country club women spitefully tell her about Alegría. Alegría is educated, but not wealthy so she decides to seduce Menardo, recognizing him as an easy target to advance her position in life. He is besotted with her from their first meeting, so it is easy for Alegría to eventually become the second Señora Pañson. Throughout their married life, Alegría uses Menardo. Her chubby husband disgusts her and she must force herself to carry out her wifely duties. She represents the manipulative capitalist woman that marries for money and then prostitutes herself within her marriage to maintain a certain standard of living. Alegría continues her lengthy affair with the Cuban communist Bartolomeo she has known since college, and then later, with American gangster Sonny Blue. When Menardo is killed, she does not even attend his funeral. The revolution has started and Mexico is no longer safe.
Tacho has disappeared. Alegría has suspected Tacho of being a spy all along. She packs up as much money as she can, sews emeralds into her belt, and leaves on a luxury bus tour that she thinks will take her across the border to freedom in the United States. The tour bus driver double crosses his wealthy clients and abandons them in the desert. Alegría is the only one who survives and when she is rescued by Catholic nuns and priests smuggling people out of Mexico, she kisses her emeralds and thanks them for saving her life. Her money has saved her but her husband was not so lucky.
Root is a young man with some Indian blood who works for Calabazas. He does not try to hide his Mexican ancestry on his grandfather’s side. His mother, on the other hand, denies this part of her ethnicity, claiming that she and her children are white and her father was of “Spanish descent,” not Mexican. Root has been injured in a motorcycle accident. As a result, he limps and has slurred speech. His character represents the disabled people of the world, another marginalized group that will join the revolution when the indigenous people take back the land. After his accident, Root rejects his white identity and everything that goes along with it. His family, especially his mother, is ashamed of his disability. She keeps the insurance settlement money from the driver who crashed into him, telling him she is keeping it for his future. His father jokes about his disability when Root wakes up from his coma and Root realizes that he has become an embarrassment to his family. Silko portrays this discomfort around disabled people as something peculiar to white people. “Root had learned a lot about his family and about white people” when he wakes up from his coma. “They were afraid when they looked at him. What was Caucasian was perfect, and Root’s skull and brain were no longer perfect.” Root remarks that the people who are most uncomfortable looking at him are “well-dressed white women passing the physical therapy wing” during hospital visiting hours.
Root’s injury places him outside the “Destroyer” culture of whites and allows him to perceive the world from a non-white perspective. He “adopts” Mosca and Calabazas as his new family. Calabazas hires Root after his injury because his injury actually helps Calabazas distribute drugs. Narcotic agents do not suspect the simple disabled man of being a drug dealer. Root realizes that Mosca and Calabazas do not have the same expectations as white people with regard to what is “normal or standard.” Mosca actually encourages Root to think about his accident and to embrace the positive effects it has had on him. Mosca tells Root that he is not afraid of Root’s disability and that there is plenty of room in the revolution for people like Root. White people have an irrational fear of disability, Mosca tells Root. While Root’s mother called a psychiatrist when he told her he wanted to keep his mangled motorcycle, Calabazas and Mosca did not think this was strange. “Indians and Mexicans understood,” Root notices. Like Seese, Root crosses boundaries. His character not only breaks physical and racial boundaries, but in having an affair with Lecha who is twenty-one years older, he breaks the age barrier. He continues his affair with Lecha even after his motorcycle accident and Lecha reports that he is a better lover afterwards than before. Root believes that his motorcycle accident was something spiritual, “a journey to the boundaries of the land of the dead.”
Calabazas is a Mexican-Indian (Yaqui) drug dealer and weapons smuggler who does business with Zeta. His character is also a crosser of borders. He knows the desert well. To him and to his people, borders are meaningless. He left Mexico as a young teenager. He is a Mexican doing business in the United States, but he moves arms and drugs effortlessly across the border. He has married Sarita but her sister, Liria, is his true love so he carries on an affair with her while still married to Sarita. Sarita does not care because she is having her own affair with the village priest. All sorts of borders are being violated by Calabazas and his family. Calabazas also reaches across cultural and social borders to mentor two “disabled” young men, Mosca, who is his cousin, and Root, who is no relation to him. Mosca and Root are disabled in different ways; Mosca is “crazy” and Root is physically disabled. Calabazas hires Root because years ago, Root’s grandfather had hired him.
Calabazas enjoys telling stories to Root and Mosca about Indians, witches and ghosts. He is the Mexican Indian spokesperson, sharing his wisdom through stories. He helps Root to cope with not feeling “normal” by pointing out that nothing is normal. While scouting out a secret border-crossing route, Root comments that all of the “dull grey boulders” look identical to him. Calabazas forces Root and Mosca to really look at the boulders to see how unlike they really are. “I get mad when I hear the word identical,” he angrily tells the young men. After carefully pointing out the differences among the boulders, Calabazas assures the young men that survival depends on differences. “Those who can’t learn to appreciate the world’s differences won’t make it. They’ll die,” he concludes. He is also speaking for Silko when he says that his people “don’t believe in boundaries” and he uses the present tense when he continues, “We are here before maps or quit claims. We know where we belong on this earth.” The world is different now, he tells Root and Mosca. “Spoken words can no longer be trusted.”
Calabazas notices that he is no longer sleeping well. He recognizes this as a sign of approaching death. His soul is getting “more and more restless and more and more energy for wandering” as it prepares for “all eternity where the old people believed no one would rest or sleep but would range over the earth” traveling on winds and clouds “in constant motion with the ocean, birds and animals.” Calabazas tries to warn Root and Mosca that the “old ones” have predicted that the “world the whites brought with them would not last.” It is only a matter of time. As he hears rumors coming from Mexico, he realizes that the time is now. Along with Zeta, he attends the International Holistic Healers Convention in Tucson where other indigenous people are meeting in room 1212. Lecha remarks that “the earth must truly be in crisis for both Zeta and Calabazas to be attending this convention.”
In a novel of unbalanced, troubled characters, Mosca may be the most chaotic. The more that is revealed about his character, the crazier he appears. Like so many of the other characters, he is addicted to drugs and alcohol, but both Root and Calabazas believe he is especially “loco.” His character represents the chaos that precedes the Apocalypse, a notion that is part of the eschatology of many religions. This is ironic because Silko uses Mosca to decry the hypocrisy of organized religion, especially by pointing out how the white man’s religion has failed him.
Mosca works for Calabazas along with Root. Mosca and Calabazas are cousins, both Mexican-Indians (Yaqui). Mosca’s real name is Carlos. Root calls him “the fly” and Calabazas calls him “Mosca” which means “fly” in Spanish. Mosca is trying to establish a horse betting side business apart from Calabazas and encourages Root to join him. Mosca finds Root’s brain injury “fascinating” and claims that he is “the only person who acknowledges Roots disabilities.” He does not even feel guilty about challenging Root to physical contests because he knows he will win. “Cripples should not be given special favors,” he tells Root. Mosca tries to force Root to remember his motorcycle accident because he believes it was a spiritual event. He believes that Root must have had visions or a near-death experience. He is convinced that Root must have gone somewhere while he was in his five-month coma, and Mosca wants to know all about it. He gets frustrated when Root assures him that he cannot remember anything. He believes that Root’s mother is a witch and that it was she who caused Root’s accident. Mosca is obsessed by witches. He is convinced that they have helped him escape convictions because each time he is arrested, “an intervening circumstance” allows him to be released. Besides, he tells Root, he has seen things – “weird things” – ever since he was a child. Calabazas recalls that Mosca’s mother was mentally ill.
Mosca’s ideas about organized religion and race are angry. Although he is Catholic, his rants against Christianity are particularly vehement. “A series of devils had been pope,” he tells Root, and “the Devil, the Church and the Mafia” are a worldwide conspiracy. He hates Sarita and Liria for their Catholicism of “gold and silver and silk and satin” altars and “big Cadillacs” parked outside of the monsignor’s residence. He repeatedly calls the sisters “bitches” that he will be glad to betray. His favorite Bible story, in fact, is the betrayal of Jesus. Jesus came to the Americas long before he was nailed to the cross. Mosca wants to slit the throats of all the self-righteous people coming out of church, people who obey rules, people who are so clean. While his rants are mostly aimed at Christians, Muslims do not escape his tirades. As soon as Muhammad passed to heaven, the Muslims, like the Christians, “forgot the teachings of their God,” Mosca concludes. Nevertheless, he believes that “someday the Muslims might take over the world.” All the violence in the Middle East is the fault of Israel. Mosca’s racist theories surprise Root. According to Mosca, most mass murderers are “white men with educations and good jobs, even families.” Eerily reminiscent of Beaufrey’s racist views, Mosca explains that family members killed by serial murderers are no doubt defective, and the murderer is actually the healthiest family member. Hitler was right about the Jews, Mosca tells Root, but in turn, all Germans were “infected by the Nazis.”
Mosca attributes his chaotic behavior to electricity. His body is electrified by sun spots. One morning, he wakes up and announces that a spirit has invaded his shoulder. This spirit talks to him and gives him advice. More and more, Mosca is pulling away from Calabazas whom he feels does not understand what is coming. The shoulder spirit tells Mosca he must wait for his calling in life. While he is waiting, he cannot exercise because the spirit in his shoulder pains him, so he eats, drinks, becomes fat and then hires a “body fat reader” to interpret the spirits in his body fat. The body fat spirit tells him, “Fatten up! There’s a great storm brewing in the South. In the big flood that’s coming, only the fat will float.” He must prepare for his role in life, his revolutionary deed.
Mosca’s mental state deteriorates further. His shoulder spirit tells him to kill Sonny and Bingo Blue and their cousin Angelo. Mosca attends the Yaqui Easter Dance festival where he knows these young gangsters will be making a drug drop. Mosca shoots, but in the confusion, he ends up killing a British poet who is a bystander, but not an “innocent” one because, naturally, the victim is a white European. The “Dead British poet’s” voice is silenced at the onset of the revolution by a character that represents the chaos to come. Another poetic voice will be heard, however, the voice of the indigenous “Poet Lawyer” Wilson Weasel Tail. Mosca has fulfilled his revolutionary destiny. The police search for him, but conclude that he must have escaped to Mexico. Mosca finds an attaché case full of drug money, however, and this money can now be used to fund the revolution. He quits working for Calabazas and joins the Barefoot Hopi’s movement.
Angelita La Escapía
Angelita leads the Revolutionary Army of the People on their “March North” from Chiapas, Mexico, along with Tacho and El Feo. El Feo is her lover. Angelita has been trained by Cuban Marxists, one of whom was her erstwhile lover Bartolomeo (who also was having an affair with Alegría). Angelita has attended the Cuban Marxist school in Mexico City in exchange for arms and weapons. Angelita is only using the Cubans, however. Her campesino revolutionaries do not care about Marx or Engels, they only want the weapons, but they fear that Angelita may have crossed over to the dark side. The campesinos send El Feo to determine if Angelita is more loyal to the people than to the Cubans. Although Angelita “is in love with Marx and Engels” on a philosophical level, she has come to believe that their concept of communism is imperfect because, after all, they were white and they were men. Besides, they copied their ideas from the indigenous people who long ago learned the value of community and sharing the wealth and the land. What they did not understand, however, was that “the earth was mother to all beings” and they had no concept of the importance of the “spirit beings.” El Feo is happy to report that Angelita is no communist. She is still “their soldier.”
Silko uses Angelita’s character to expound upon the virtues of communism over capitalism. While the other characters illustrate Silko’s views regarding these economic and political systems through their lives and their stories, Angelita illustrates them through her dialogue. Reading her thoughts and words are like reading a treatise. She writes them in a notebook whose sardonic title “Friends of the Indians” conceals what she really believes, “Friends of the Indians! What a laugh! The clergy and the communists took credit for any good, however small, that had been done for the Indians since the arrival of Europeans.” She keeps records of popular revolts in the Americas against colonial nations that began in 1510 and ended in 1945. She chronicles centuries of “Native American holocausts” and later uses this notebook as evidence against Bartolomeo in his trial for treason against the people. His crime is putting communism above the people and for his “disdain for history before the Cuban revolution.” History does not exist for Bartolomeo prior to Fidel Castro, Angelita has concluded, and this is why he has to die. He has no respect for history, for what transpired centuries ago in the Americas. “What history?” he asks at his trial. “Jungle monkeys and savages have no history!” He is on trial symbolically for all Europeans and Angelita coldly pronounces his death sentence.
Angelita is a scholar, an educated woman who although she has cast herself as a representative of the people, does not truly speak their language. The campesino community and revolutionaries grow restless when she speaks. They do not understand her rhetoric and they do not trust her. They cannot see the “bigger picture” as she does, she concludes. They call her “that crazy woman from the coast.” Ironically, they do see the bigger picture; they are more concerned with true justice than she is. It is only when she brings the rhetoric down to their level and convinces them that Bartolomeo is the enemy of the people that they agree to his execution. Nevertheless, the people worry about where Bartolomeo’s soul will go after he is executed. Will it return to Cuba? Angelita does not care. Bartolomeo is no longer useful. She believes the end justifies the means, and the end is taking back the land. The means is anything that will help accomplish this goal. At the end of the novel, Angelita meets with Zeta in room 1212 of the Tucson hotel where the International Holistic Healers Conference is taking place. She secretly asks Zeta about buying weapons, unwilling to accept Tacho’s vision of waiting for as long as it takes.
Roy/Rambo and Clinton
All marginalized groups must work together to take back the land from the colonizers. Roy is a homeless veteran and a former Green Beret. Roy crosses paths with Trigg who is looking for homeless men to “hit the streets and start recruiting plasma donors for him. The fierce but vacant look in Roy’s eyes convinces Trigg that he has been to Viet Nam. The other homeless men have nicknamed Roy “Rambo” because he always dresses in Army fatigues and wears a green beret that he believes has special powers to protect him. He was severely injured in Viet Nam and it has made him a little crazy. Roy/Rambo is bitter towards a country that he once fought to protect and now has no use for him. He is convinced that communism has killed itself and the United States now faces a greater threat from within – “government and police owned by the fat cats.” Democracy, he tells himself, is not “police beating homeless old men” and “women and children hungry, and sleeping on the streets.” Roy/Rambo’s beliefs make him a good fit for the “Robin Hood” mentality of the other marginalized characters – take from the rich and give to the poor. Roy/Rambo is secretly recruiting an “Army of Homeless Veterans” to redistribute the wealth in the United States. Roy/Rambo is white. He has recruited fellow homeless veteran, Clinton, to assist him in putting together his army. Clinton is black and it is his job to convince African-Americans to join the Army of Homeless Veterans. This army must be integrated, Roy/Rambo tells Clinton, but Clinton has his own ideas for an all African-American Army.
Like Roy/Rambo, Clinton is also disillusioned with the United States government, but Clinton blames it on the white man. The white man’s history is wrong. Africans were not “responsible for the plantation slavery in the New World.” The African slaves only replaced the Native American slaves, “who died by the thousands” rather than live enslaved harvesting sugar. African tribes practiced “local war-hostage slavery” in which the hostages were released once the ransoms were paid. Viet Nam was a “white man’s war,” and “the colored man was sent to do the dangerous, dirty work white men were too weak to perform.” Eerily reflecting Serlo’s racist beliefs, Clinton also believes that the Vietnam War had been designed to “stop the black man in America.” Clinton had not been stopped, however, and attended the University of New Mexico on the G.I. Bill. There, he immersed himself in black studies.
The more Clinton drinks, the more he rants. Ironically, he is enslaved to drugs and alcohol. He sometimes tires of “cursing the white man and begins to curse the black man and the brown man who sold their brothers down the river for the white man.” Why, the white man did not even invent communism on his own, Clinton informs Rambo. Echoing the ideas of Angelita La Escapía, Clinton says that Marx stole his ideas from the African and other tribal people who “had shared food and wealth in common for thousands of years before the white man Marx came along and stole their ideas for his communes and collective farms.” Clinton’s plan is for a “reborn United States” that will be run by people of color. He invents a new ethnicity for himself called “Black Indians,” explaining that he is descended from “wealthy, slave-owning Cherokee Indians.” He says that Africans and Indians are connected not only by blood but by the spirits. The African spirits came to the Americas from Africa, even though during slavery, the people may have believed that these spirits had abandoned them.
Clinton is compiling his own “almanac” which consists of snippets of his rantings, revisionist bits of history, stories of white oppression, poems and Black and Indian folklore that he has picked up from various sources. He plans to read from his “almanac” when he establishes slavery broadcasts on “Liberation Radio” so that his people will know their history. “If the people knew their history, they would realize they must rise up.” Roy/Rambo realizes that the other men in the Army of the Homeless are afraid of Clinton. The young ones notice that Clinton wants to “kill all whites.” A young homeless Mexican veteran tries to explain that Clinton only wants to kill rich whites and that Clinton would “even go after Oprah Winfrey because the bitch is rich.” By the end of the novel, Clinton and Roy/Rambo have begun their takeover in Tucson. Their Army of Homeless Veterans is occupying vacant condominiums all over the city and they join the pan-Indian revolutionary group meeting in room 1212 at the International Holistic Healers Conference to take back the land.