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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 375

Doña Bárbara by Rómulo Gallegos centers around a feudal relationship surrounding the Altamira Ranch and the two heirs who own it. Doña Bárbara is a main character in the story. She is the mestiza mistress of Lorenzo Barqueros and takes over his half of the ranch. She is a determined character, as she tries to expand the boundaries of the ranch by taking over the second ranch of Altamira. Santos Luzardo is the offspring and male heir to the second half of Altamira ranch. He was raised in Caracas with his mother and returns to the land when he decides to sell it. Upon discovering the situation with Doña Bárbara and the disarray the land has fallen into, he realizes he must try to get the ranch back and properly care for the land.

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First, Luzardo makes peace with the Barqueros and squashes an old feud between both family names. He then takes the appropriate measures through the legal system to begin disputing the lost parts of the ranch. In a twist of events, Doña Bárbara and Santos Luzardo are able to reach a middle ground in determining the boundaries of their ranches. The surprising civility of the meeting is determined to be a result of Doña Bárbara's secret admiration and love for Santos Luzardo. Matters are further complicated when Marisela, Doña Bárbaras' daughter, also falls in love with him.

In the midst of making preparations to begin financing the fence building around his property, Luzardo is thwarted by Doña Bárbara's rogue henchmen. As things begin escalating to murder and violence, Doña Bárbara is torn between her love for Luzardo and her longing for ownership and power. She ultimately disposes of her trusted henchmen and is deserted by the rest of her crew. As she becomes aware of her daughter's love for Luzardo, Doña Bárbara disappears. She leaves a deed that transfers her land ownership to Marisela, provides the money for the fence, and returns the land she had taken over back to Luzardo. In the end, the marriage between Luzardo and Marisela combines the two ranches, and the history of the family feud is forgotten.

Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1111

The Altamira ranch is a vast estate in the wildest section of the Arauca River basin of Venezuela, a ranch that was established early in the history of the country’s cattle business. Late in the nineteenth century, it was divided into two parts by one of the owners’ joint heirs. One part of the ranch kept the old name and went to the male heir of the Luzardo family. The other part went to a daughter who married a Barquero, and it took on the name from the new owner. As the years went by, the two families carried on a feud that killed most of the men on both sides. During the Spanish-American War, the owner of Altamira quarreled with his elder son and killed him; he then starved himself to death. His wife, Doña Luzardo, took her only remaining son to Caracas to rear him in a more civilized atmosphere.

Years go by. Finally the son, Santos Luzardo, decides to sell the ranch, which was allowed to deteriorate under irresponsible overseers. The young man goes into the back country to see the place for himself and to determine what it might be worth. On his arrival, he finds that the neighboring ranch of the Barqueros fell into the hands of Doña Bárbara, a mestiza who was the mistress of the real owner before she ran him off his property. Doña Bárbara is in the process of taking over the Altamira ranch as well, with the help of several henchmen, including Don Balbino, the ranch’s overseer. Santos decides to keep the ranch and try to make it prosperous again.

Santos is able to rely on the help of a handful of loyal cowboys who knew him as a child. These include Antonio, a cowboy who was his playmate years before....

(The entire section contains 1486 words.)

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