Brother Juniper (JEW-neh-pehr), a Spanish friar who tries to prove that the collapse of the bridge of San Luis Rey in Peru is an act showing the wisdom of God, who properly sent five persons to their deaths in the accident. For his book, which is condemned by the Church, the friar is burned at the stake.
The narrator, who finds a copy of Brother Juniper’s eighteenth century book and reconstructs for the reader the lives of the five persons who died when the bridge collapsed.
The Marquesa de Montemayor
The Marquesa de Montemayor (mohn-teh-may-OHR), an ugly woman with a beautiful daughter. She is highly possessive and selfish, first to her daughter and then to Pepita, her maid. By reading a letter from Pepita to an abbess the Marquesa learns her own nature, becomes contrite, and resolves to be a better woman, only to die the next day when the bridge collapses.
Pepita (peh-PEE-tah), maid for the Marquesa de Montemayor, who dies also when the bridge collapses. She is unhappy when she is sent from her convent by the Abbess Madre Maria del Pilar, whom she loves, to serve the noblewoman. Her letter confessing her unhappiness reveals to the Marquesa the noblewoman’s thoughtless and self-centered life.
(The entire section is 507 words.)