Martín Tregua (mahr-TEEN TRAY-gwah), the narrator, a law student living in a boarding house in Buenos Aires. Disaffected with law school, he quits to devote himself to writing. He publishes a book of poems and becomes deeply involved with the publication of a new and provocative journal, titled Enough. When the patron of the review closes it down, Martín spends several years in isolation, living and writing while supporting himself on an inheritance from his father. He has one serious relationship with a woman, Mercedes Miró, that fizzles out. He deeply admires Señora de Cárdenas, whom he idealizes and observes only from afar. After spending some time in Europe, he returns to Buenos Aires, where he develops an odd but serious relationship with Gloria Bambil, a librarian whose listlessness challenges Martín to enliven her and to make her happy. At the novel’s end, Martín is once again alone; Gloria has taken her own life. Señora de Cárdenas remains his inspiration and his model, his ideal, and he remains a solitary writer.
Señora de Cárdenas
Señora de Cárdenas (see-NYOH-rah day CAHR-day-nahs), a mysterious character referred to only as “you” for most of the novel. Her identity is revealed gradually by the accretion of details throughout the text, in which her life history is interwoven. Born into an aristocratic family dating from colonial times, she is both noble and rich. She rejects the model prescribed by her social status and marries below her station, out of pity and rebellion, not out of love. Her husband comes to resent her status and wealth. His sense of inferiority leads him to drink, to womanize, and to sell his influence to the highest buyer; in short, he disgraces himself. Through it all, and...
(The entire section is 784 words.)