Don Dionisio (dee-oh-NEE-see-oh), a parish priest who gives unity to the separate chapters describing the people and festivals of a small Mexican town. He is stern and upright, yet understanding and compassionate. He can combine the best of the contrasting philosophies of his two priestly associates.
Padre Reyes (RREH-yehs), his liberal and progressive assistant. He enjoys seeing the parishioners marry and shocks Padre Islas with his earthy talk. He has advanced ideas about such things as the value of life insurance, though he cannot convince any of the town of its value.
Padre Islas (EES-lahs), Don Dionisio’s narrow-minded and unbelievably conservative associate. Unable to meet the townspeople on a personal basis, he scurries along the sunbaked streets with eyes averted. As the sponsor of the church organization for unmarried girls, he exerts tremendous influence on the community by urging the girls to stay pure by remaining single, and he threatens them with damnation for even wholesome thoughts about the men of the town. After achieving a reputation for saintliness, he ends up in an epileptic fit on the church floor, after which he is separated from the priesthood.
María, an orphan niece of Don Dionisio who rebels against the drab life of the community and secretly reads newspapers from Mexico and the...
(The entire section is 635 words.)