The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Jehu, the Mexican American loan officer, captures the attention of the reader at the beginning of the novel. He is a shrewd character who learns how to survive the socioeconomic pressures placed upon him by white power brokers, who try to coerce him into selling out his people. Jehu, however, discloses the power brokers’ intentions and their efforts to control both the economy and the politics of the valley. Despite Jehu’s efforts to serve as a role model for his people, his sense of honesty and fair play cause him to leave his post at the bank; he is thus a failure in the eyes of most of the local Mexican American population.

Noddy is the chief power broker; he is not only the owner of Klail City First National Bank but also political boss of Belken County. From the beginning of the book, the reader gains a dislike for this underhanded character. Noddy controls most money transactions, especially in the real-estate industry in the Valley. “St. Noddy” also manipulates the social lives and careers of susceptible whites and Mexican Americans. The one person he cannot control is Jehu Malacara.

Ira Escobar is a Mexican American petty politician who also works for the Klail City First National Bank. Yet his lack of knowledge of politics leaves him vulnerable to use in others’ power plays. He is so naïve a character that he never realizes that his wife is having an affair with Jehu or that his people think of him as a sellout. Through...

(The entire section is 496 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Jehu Malacara

Jehu Malacara (HEH-ew mah-lah-KAHR-ah), the head loan officer at Klail City First National Bank, the center of Belken County politics. A Mexican American with a military background, he has chosen to work his way up into the Texas Anglo-American world of politics and money, but he finds himself unable to live with the underhanded games played by the Anglo-American power brokers. Despite his efforts in support of the Texas Mexican struggle to achieve higher economic and political status, he proves a disappointment to the Mexican American community. He quits his job at the bank; at the book’s end, it is not known why he leaves the valley.

Noddy Perkins

Noddy Perkins, a self-made man and bank owner who thrives on controlling the politics of Belken County. He is behind the Anglo-American power plays to keep the area’s real estate out of the hands of Texas Mexicans. The reader is led to believe that he wants to exploit Jehu, his chief loan officer, by using him in the same manner as he does Ira Escobar. Although his sinister intentions do not bear fruit, Noddy is able to manipulate and control other important characters in his political schemes, even breaking off a love affair between his daughter, Sammie Jo, and Jehu.

Ira Escobar

Ira Escobar (EE-rah

(The entire section is 538 words.)