(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

This work combines the realism of the life of the cholos in the coastal areas of Ecuador with the fantastic elements of the legends that prevail in those tropical regions. The action evolves around two central characters, Don Goyo and Cusumbo. The former is the patriarch of the island region and of the town of Cerrito de Morreños, which he founded after leaving his native town and which he helped develop into a peaceful and harmonious community. During the action of the novel, Don Goyo, nearly 150 years old, is still the virile man and the authority figure that makes the inhabitants listen and obey. He is admired for his manly qualities, which have yielded for him many children. He has stood up to the white man and has prevented him from abusing his people, cohabiting with him side by side in a cordial but uncompromising relationship. Misfortunes come to the region, however, when, after having a vision in which a mangrove tree tells him that the white man will ultimately ruin and own the land, Don Goyo orders the mangrove cutters to turn their livelihood to fishing. This proves to be disastrous since they do not have the skills or the interest to succeed. When they disobey and go back to cutting, the largest and oldest mangrove tree falls to the ground, and Don Goyo is found tangled among its branches.

Cusumbo, the other main character, is Don Goyo’s counterpart, in that he represents the average man of the region. When the novel begins,...

(The entire section is 462 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Brushwood, John S. The Spanish American Novel: A Twentieth Century Survey. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1975. Includes a discussion of Aguilera Malta’s major novels.

Carrabino, Victor, ed. The Power of Myth in Literature and Film. Tallahassee: University of Florida Presses, 1980. Explores mythic elements on Aguilera Malta’s fiction.

Rabassa, Clementine. Demetrio Aguilera-Malta and Social Justice: The Tertiary Phase of Epic Tradition in Latin American Literature. Cranbury, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickenson University Press, 1980. Rabassa examines the theme of social justice in Aguilera Malta’s works.

Ryan, Bryan, ed. Hispanic Writers: A Selection of Sketches from Contemporary Authors. Detroit: Gale Research, 1991. Entry on Malta gives an overview of his life, writing, and critical reaction to his work.