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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 201

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The main character is a wife and mother named Maria Quinteria. She seems quite dissatisfied and unfulfilled by her life, perhaps not even sure what her own purpose in that life is, and so she goes to sleep for a few days. Her children are away, and it turns out that her husband doesn't really need her to cook for him or help with his clothes. When she goes out to dinner with him and an associate, she realizes how inessential her "self" is to her life: she makes small talk, laughs at the right times, and conducts herself the way a woman of her class ought to, and nothing much else seems to matter.

No other characters in the story are named. Besides Maria, the story really only features her husband and the businessman with whom they have dinner. Perhaps they are unnamed because their identities are ultimately unimportant—it is Maria's own shaky identity that is the focus. Neither the husband nor the businessman really has a distinct personality. Her husband seems a bit worried about her initially, thinking she is ill and leaving her in bed to recuperate, and the businessman makes a pass at her over dinner.