The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Ben Lynch, the Anglo landowner introduced in “Presidio 1883,” typifies everything abusive and negative in the social system of the late nineteenth century along the Texas-Mexico border. He and others in the book are more types than fully developed characters. His motivation is greed; his ambition is acquisition of money, land, and power. He will stoop to any level to accomplish these goals. By marrying Rosario, he aims to ensure that the Mexican American population will be divided in their loyalties, because, in a perverted sort of way, he has become “family.” In like manner, he takes other Chicanos into his confidence in order to undermine their traditional allegiance to one another.

Francisco Uranga will not be a pawn for the powerful Anglo landowner. He is smart enough to realize that the Mexican American population is being exploited. His publication, a small newspaper called The Frontiersman, eventually becomes a strong voice of protest concerning the life of the Mexicans in the Southwest. Few details concerning Francisco’s daily life are provided, but his son Reyes inherits the seeds of rebellion.

Reyes Uranga is enraged when he realizes the extent to which Ben Lynch will go in his abuse. When he discovers that Lynch has ordered his brother drowned and his friends shot in cold blood, he resists in a manner different from his father, using a rifle instead of a pen. He becomes known as “Coyote” and organizes...

(The entire section is 475 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Ben Lynch

Ben Lynch, or Don Benito (beh-NEE-toh), an Anglo-American landowner who represents everything undesirable. He acquires his land in a legal but unethical agreement with Tía Paz, who was in no shape mentally to resist his overtures. In order to secure his position among the Mexican American population, he marries Francisco’s sister. The story of his vengeance against anyone who opposes him reveals the extent to which he will go in his exploitation and manipulation of the minority population. By virtue of his Anglo-American heritage, he is able to find support from law enforcement agencies. His character personifies everything evil.

Francisco Uranga

Francisco Uranga (ew-RAHN-gah), also called Don Pancho (PAHN-choh), a pathetic figure whose life as a journalist and a lawyer is spent trying to correct the injustices he sees perpetrated upon the Chicano population. Francisco speaks for himself, his family, and the Mexican American population in general. It is through his acts of resistance, which are reinforced by his sons and their sons, that the reader sees a panorama of abuse that extends over several generations and clearly is suggestive of similar abuses in other communities with the same racial mix. What Francisco’s character lacks in depth, it makes up for in intensity. His persistent dedication to exposing abuse and cruelty along the Texas border, despite the alienation he...

(The entire section is 625 words.)