The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Like most of Adolfo Bioy Casares’s characters, Don Isidoro Vidal represents the enigma of the individual faced with the problems of modern society (such as overpopulation). The classic portrait of Don Vidal is destined to become one of the most well-defined character studies of twentieth century fiction. With astute psychological insight, the author reveals the inner conflicts produced by this middle-aged man’s fear of growing old. Interior monologue is frequently used to express Vidal’s complex and frustrated desire for youth and the passion of young love, the “. . . hopelessness of bridging the two generations.” Don Isidoro often remarks that his world appears to be that of a dream in which reality dissipates before the demands of a fanciful society, ready to condemn and exterminate the outcast. These deeply rooted sentiments of persecution lead Don Isidoro to a sadly ironic vision of life: “I’ve been left behind, he thought. And now I’m old, or getting ready to be.

Similar to other characters that populate Adolfo Bioy Casares’s fiction, Don Vidal represents the pain and suffering of existential isolation, as the individual is caught in the absurd trap of an enigmatic society. The fantastic (although entirely plausible) world of persecution in which Don Vidal and his friends are engaged is set within a realistic framework. The novelist is thus able to attenuate the nonrealistic dimension of the story through specificity of detail and psychological depiction of character.

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Don Isidro Vidal

Don Isidro Vidal (ee-SEE-droh vee-DAHL), an elderly widower, the novel’s protagonist. Small and slightly built, he has a sharp fox’s nose and a mustache. He is obsessively proud of his new set of false teeth. Don Isidro is the leader of a social group of elderly men, the “pigs” referred to in the novel’s title, who are under attack and are being murdered by a group of young men. He is a compassionate individual who has faith in the fundamental brotherhood of humanity.

Isidorito Vidal

Isidorito Vidal (ee-see-dohr-EE-toh), Don Isidro’s son. His meager earnings support both his father and himself. When the gang of youths begins to terrorize the town, Isidorito tries to placate both sides. He participates in the group’s activities but sometimes warns the old men when they are targeted as victims. He is murdered by the group when he tries to save his father’s life; they consider Isidorito a traitor.


Nélida (NEH-lee-dah), the young woman who falls in love with Don Isidro. She is engaged to a young man but breaks the engagement to be with Don Isidro, to whom she is increasingly drawn, as he is to her. When he fears for his life and attempts to hide from the youth group, she shelters him in her apartment.

Arturo Farrall

Arturo Farrall (ahr-TEW-roh fah-

(The entire section is 638 words.)