(Essentials of European Literature)

Angel Guerra, thirty years old and a widower, father of an adored daughter Encarnacion, had spent an unhappy childhood. An idealist, he had turned to the revolutionists, thinking that if everything were overthrown life could be improved in the rebuilding. His mother, Dona Sales, disapproved of him and treated him like a child, even after he was married. An extremely rich woman, she tried to starve her liberal-minded son into submission to her wishes, but she managed only to drive him into the company of advocates of violence, the Babels.

The Babel household contained an unsavory group. Babel lived with his brother, Captain Agapito, a former slaver, and his children, drunken Matias and slippery Policarpo. Babel’s family was as bad. Aristides, an embezzler, had fled from Cuba; Fausto had been dismissed from the post office for speculation; and Dulcenombre had love affairs from which the whole family profited. She became attracted to Angel and lived with him for a year in order to escape her family, but he was too poor to marry her.

At last, the crimes of the Babels sent Angel also into hiding, with a wounded hand that Dulce bandaged. After a month of skulking, he went home to find his mother dying. Lere, the twenty-year-old tutor of “Cion,” was nursing her. At first, she and Dr. Maquis refused to let Angel see the sick woman, but finally he was allowed to be with her during her dying moments. She left him a comfortable fortune, but when Angel tried to use it selfishly the convent-trained Lere shamed him into carrying out his mother’s desires with it.

Troubles mounted for Angel. Dulce, his mistress, became ill. Cion died. Lere announced she was entering a convent in Toledo. In his loneliness, Angel followed her. When Dulce came looking for him, he had already gone. Following the advice of her uncle, Captain Agapito, she sought solace in...

(The entire section is 770 words.)