Lucas is Isabel's handsome and athletic fiancé. Because he was in love with Isabel, Lucas broke off his previous engagement to Teresa, Isabel's best friend. Isabel accepted his proposal, and he began planning for their future.
Lucas' belief system is very traditional and reflects the attitudes of the village. He is a hard worker, finding work wherever he can. For a while, he works with the men who are digging the water-line channel that will provide running water to the village. He loves Isabel, and also needs to know that she loves him. When he sees how curious she is about Allan, the American visitor, and sees her interact with him, he becomes very jealous and begins to doubt their relationship. When Lucas is hurt, he becomes stubborn and unwilling to talk.
Lucas' hesitance to work out personal problems almost leads to the breakup of his relationship with Isabel. Confused by jealousy, Lucas allows Teresa, who secretly wants him back, to fill his head with doubts about Isabel. Ultimately, the truth emerges, and Lucas and Isabel realize they are meant for each other. In fact, he loves her enough to agree that they will try to make her dream of becoming a teacher come true, although he cannot see how.
Isabel is the novel's main character. She is a Mayan teenager who is forced to stay home from school and take care of the family because her mother is ill. Isabel handles all of her usual errands in addition to the work that her mother would normally do. Isabel loves school and misses going every day, but her responsibilities at home prevent her from continuing her education. Already, many of Isabel's friends have left school to get married, as is expected of girls their age. Isabel's dream is to be a teacher, a position that would allow her to fuel her own love of learning while educating and inspiring children. In her village, however, it is unlikely that her dream will ever come true, as she is expected to marry soon and take on the full-time role of wife and mother. As Isabel comes to terms with her own identity, she grapples with the conflict between the tradition of her village and her desire to follow her dream.
Isabel is miserable with her additional responsibilities to the family, and she feels selfish because she is not more willing to make sacrifices. She sees how her mother suffers physically and wonders what gives her the right to feel that she, in perfect health, is really suffering at all. At confession, she is told that her feelings are perfectly normal and that she is doing nothing wrong. Still, she cannot shake the feeling that she is somehow deficient as a woman because of her private resentment.
Isabel is engaged to handsome Lucas Choy, who broke his previous engagement with her best friend, Teresa, because he was in love with Isabel. She is amazed at Teresa's willingness to be her friend despite what happened with Lucas. While Isabel loves Lucas and wants to marry him, she is not ready to give up her dream of being a teacher. She is very sensitive to Lucas' moods and feelings, and when he is upset with her, she is determined to talk to him and resolve their problems.
When the American Allan Waters comes to town, Isabel seems to be the only one who is not afraid of him. She is fascinated by what she can learn from this foreigner and senses that he is harmless and can be trusted. Unlike the others in her village, Isabel is not afraid of change and seeks ways to combine the old traditions and beliefs with new ways of thinking and doing things. In the end, after a talk with her teacher, Isabel finds a way to make peace with Lucas without losing him, and even does so without agreeing to sacrifice the dream that means so much to her.
Manuela is Isabel's very ill mother. Her illness is incapacitating, causing her to suffer weakness, fatigue, swollen limbs, severe chest pains, and fits. Her infrequent walks are extremely difficult and taxing. During the course of the novel, the reader only sees Manuela in her weakened...
(The entire section is 2,010 words.)