No plot, as such, exists in this short novel, but the activities of the two main families named in the work may be traced through some one hundred twenty years (1853-1970). The book begins with a prologue, told in the stream-of-consciousness technique, which sets the stage for the following narrative, told from multiple points of view. The next three parts, “Presidio 1883,” “Presidio 1942,” and “Presidio 1970,” illustrate the conflict between Anglos, represented by the Lynch lineage, and Mexicans (who eventually become Mexican Americans, or Chicanos), represented by the Uranga family. The action throughout the book takes place in the border towns of Presidio, Texas, and Ojinaga, Mexico, on each side of the Rio Grande. No main character, except perhaps the Devil, is introduced in the prologue, but the barrenness and desolation of far west Texas, which will be the locus for years of conflict between the neighboring communities, is emphasized. Since Aristeo Brito was reared in this same environment of antagonism and conflict and, as an adult, returned “home” to research the book, many similarities between the author’s life and the narrative appear.
“Presidio 1883” details the Anglo domination of the area, introducing Ben Lynch (Don Benito), whose wealth and influence enable him to threaten, cajole, or cheat the Mexicans. He is powerful and has the strong arm of the Texas Rangers on his side whenever there is a conflict between him and the Mexicans he employs. At one point, he discovers a ring of horse thieves and proceeds to host a party to which they are given a special invitation. Much to their surprise, the thieves are summarily slaughtered. The only person willing to stand up to Don...
(The entire section is 702 words.)