The Edge of the Storm

by Agustín Yáñez

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The novel is set in a Mexican village around the time of the 1910 Mexican Revolution. The author emphasizes the village’s religious conservatism as he presents the villagers’ social and political reasons to join the revolution.

As it opens late one night, numerous characters are in different situations. Don Timoteo Limón is an elderly man who feels guilty over killing a man in self-defense years earlier. His son, Damián, is living in the United States trying to become wealthy. Elsewhere, Mercedes Toledo is thinking about a letter she received from Julián, which has caused her considering retreating into a convent. In a different house, Micaela Rodriguez has just returned from Mexico City. Fed up with the small-minded villagers, she contemplates scandalizing proper unmarried women in the village by dressing provocatively and then moving to the city.

During Lent, a group of men attend a religious retreat conducted by two parish priests, Dionisio Martínez and Reyes. These men are trying to reconcile conflicts, some of which go back generations. Timoteo is among them. The priests try to get them to talk through their differences but also frighten them with stories about the devil.

Father Dionisio has two wards: his nieces María and Marta. Although Marta is pious, he is having little success sheltering the free-spirited María, whom he forbids to associate with Mercedes.

Damián returns from the United States, not only still poor but also bitter over being mistreated there. After an argument about his inheritance, his father has a fatal heart attack. Damián has an affair with Micaela that goes badly; he kills her but receives a light sentence and escapes to join the revolution. María’s sympathy for him leads the others to ostracize her, and she also runs away to join the revolution. The author resolves several other loose ends of the minor characters’ lives as well.

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