The process of characterization is central to Betrayed by Rita Hayworth. Each of the main characters (and some of the minor ones) is allotted his or her own chapter (Toto is given three, counting his essay on the films) and also is more fully presented through the eyes of the others. For example, Héctor is mentioned frequently by Mita, Toto, and others, creating an image for the reader which then must be tested against Héctor’s own monologue in the ninth chapter. His rampant sexuality is later ironically contrasted to Esther’s perception of him in chapter 12. Esther, a scholarship student at the school Héctor and Toto attend, writes her diary in a style imitated from romantic magazines and imagines Héctor to be the kind of “gentlemanly” date she has long desired. Interestingly, it is Toto who perceives Esther’s danger and calls off the rendezvous he had been helping to arrange. Esther resigns herself to her loss and goes back to dreams of helping humankind through a career in medicine.
In the stories of most of the characters certain emphases recur; in particular, each character meditates on sexuality, and most of them reveal, directly or indirectly, how their education has affected their lives. These traits are equally true in men and women, although Puig certainly presents men, particularly Héctor and Cobito, as more voracious, predatory, and impulsive with regard to sex. Even Paquita, presented earlier in the novel as...
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