Themes / Characters

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 532

Unlike some in Puig's other works, none of the characters in Blood of Requited Love is especially mysterious or profound. In Blood of Requited Love the mystery for the reader lies in the question of if and when the protagonists, Josemar in particular, will ever tell the truth. And, although the contradictory details of the text contribute to the elusiveness of the story, the details of the lives of the principals are simple and routine, conforming, as they do, to the broad outlines of normalcy in a small provincial town. Lovers meet in the town square, go to dances together, see each other at soccer games, and after church. They take long walks in the country, listen to birds, and admire the stars. They go to school, make out behind shade trees, and fantasize about the future.

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The town proves too small to contain Josemar's ambitions. He needs to leave to make something of himself; he works as a mason and then for the electric company. Neither job gives him the money and glory he so desperately wants, and his meager savings are spent to treat his mother's painful and debilitating arthritis. He fathers two children out of wedlock and is unable to support them. Their mother, a teacher, cares for them and helps nurse Josemar's ailing mother. To add to the complete deconstruction of the character's hopes, his mother anticipates having to sell the humble house in which they live in order to pay her medical expenses. In sum, years after leaving town in search of fame and fortune Josemar has nothing, not even a roof over his head. When he returns to Cocota almost a decade later, he has little to show for his absence except rich fictions about the past, endless tales of sexual prowess, and equally fictive accounts of his soccer feats.

Maria da Gloria, although a main character and a frequent discursive partner in the novel, reveals little of herself. From the third person narrator we learn that she is an intelligent, resourceful, and independent girl. In collusion with her mother, she appears willing to defy her father's orders that she not see Josemar, a youth whose country roots and lower-class origins make him an unacceptable boyfriend. As for her role in the seduction, the reader never learns the extent of her complicity. After he leaves Cocota, immediately after the alleged act, he never contacts her nor exhibits any overt curiosity about her fate. We do learn that during Josemar's long absence, she suffers from a nervous condition and is seldom seen in public. This conscious indifference on Josemar's part is hard to reconcile with his mental life, which remains dominated by thoughts about Maria, visions and revisions of the seduction, recollections about their past together, and illusions about what could have been.

Maria da Gloria eventually recovers, resumes her studies, becomes a teacher, and is poised to accept the romantic entreaties of a friend from her youth newly returned to Cocota, professional degree in hand.

Unlike Josemar, the rest of the characters of the novel, including Maria, appear resigned to their plight, and life in Cocota, with or without Josemar, continues at its predictable small-town pace.

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