The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Angelina Beloff captures the sympathy of the reader. She represents women artists of the 1920’s; she is struggling for her place in modern art. From Pablo Picasso, she learns about the possibilities of playing with lines instead of copying directly from reality. At first, she paints representationally, gradually moving to embrace the abstract style of cubism. This shift in Quiela’s aesthetic coincides with her increasing emotional distance from Diego Rivera. In a way, being alone in Paris helps her to achieve a self-affirmation in her art.

Diego Rivera, the lover for whom Quiela cries and the famous painter who is developing a new Mexican art, is a womanizer who takes up with the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo while Quiela still waits for him in Paris. Rivera is portrayed through the writings of Quiela, and readers do not really have any account of him directly. This fact limits the appreciation of his actions and makes the reader accuse him of neglecting his lover all alone by herself in Paris. One possible interpretation of these actions could be that he is letting her alone so that she can grow as an artist and develop without depending on him. This interpretation, however, is not the best one; rather, Rivera stands for the macho male who thinks that women cannot live without him.

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Angelina Beloff

Angelina Beloff (ahn-gahl-EE-nah BEH-lof), called Quiela (kee-EH-lah), a Russian painter of landscapes, still lifes, and portraits who also works as an engraver, lithographer, and book illustrator. She is Diego Rivera’s lover in Paris from 1910 to 1920. After he leaves her, she writes to him for a period of nine months until she realizes that he is neither coming back nor sending for her. More than ten years later, she travels to Mexico, where he has gone, but she does not look for him.

Diego Rivera

Diego Rivera (dee-EH-goh ree-VEH-rah), a Mexican painter who lives with Beloff in Paris. He returns to Mexico in the wake of the Mexican Revolution. His ten-year relationship with Beloff (Quiela for him) is portrayed in Dear Diego, but as a character he appears only through her letters. He is judged in the novel because he leaves her and never writes back to her; he merely sends money once in a while. He represents the freedom of expression in contemporary Latin American art that Beloff lacks as a result of her European background.