Characters

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Father Dionisio is one of the village’s three priests. His character alternates between moral rectitude and compassion for the failings and foibles of others. He appears throughout the novel, often in regard to his role as guardian of his nieces, María and Marta. He moves into the head priest role after Father Islas is incapacitated.

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Father Islas is an extremely conservative, sanctimonious parish priest who is obsessed with sin. He tries to control the behavior of the village’s unmarried girls and women, encouraging them to join his society and putting fear of damnation in them if they wear any “revealing” clothes or entertain sexual thoughts, much less engage in premarital sex. His influence is curtailed when he falls ill.

Father Reyes is presented as the foil to Islas, espousing liberal philosophies and borderline subversive politics. Popular with the young people, he thinks the church should change with the times.

María and Marta are Dionisio’s wards; the sisters are his orphaned nieces. They too are presented as polar opposites. While María longs for modern comforts, lovely clothes, and urban entertainments, Marta is committed to service and devotion and envisions life as a mother, including a desire to adopt a child. María joins another woman, the widow of Lucas González, in running off with the revolutionaries.

Timoteo and Damián Limón are father and son. Timoteo, a well-to-do landowner, is an upstanding citizen and pillar of the community, although he suffers internal qualms for having once killed another man in self-defense. Damián, after failing to make a fortune as he expected in the United States, argues with his father upon his return to the village. After a heart attack kills Timoteo, Damián enters a downward spiral, including an affair with a notorious woman, Micaela, whom he later kills. Escaping before his conviction lands him in jail, he too flees to join the revolutionaries.

Micaela Rodríguez, a beautiful, sensuous woman, dreams of returning to Mexico City to enjoy a luxurious life. Her flirtatious behavior and improper dress lead to her ruin, however, and ultimately to her death at Damián’s hands.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 635

Don Dionisio

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

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

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

María, an orphan niece of Don Dionisio who rebels against the drab life of the community and secretly reads newspapers from Mexico and the forbidden The Three Musketeers. Her final rebellion takes the form of running away with the widow of Lucas González, a woman of doubtful reputation, to follow the revolutionary army fighting against dictator Porfirio Díaz.

Marta

Marta, the other niece of Don Dionisio, twenty years old and unmarried, who follows the monotonous village pattern, working in the hospital, looking after children, and accepting the social and religious restrictions.

Damián Limón

Damián Limón (dahm-mee-AHN lee-MOHN), who has returned from the United States, “where Mexicans are treated like dogs.” He retorts that at least they get paid in money instead of promises, as in Mexico. Through the machinations of a political boss, he gets a light, six-year sentence after killing Micaela Rodríguez, following a scandalous love affair. Then, managing to escape while on his way to jail at the capital, he brazenly returns to María. She helps him escape again to join the revolutionary army.

Timoteo Limón

Timoteo Limón (tee-moh-TEH-oh), Damián’s father, a prosperous landowner. He dies of a heart attack following a violent quarrel with Damián over his will.

Micaela Rodríguez

Micaela Rodríguez (mee-kah-EH-lah rrohd-REE-gehs), a spoiled only child who learned about freedom while on a visit to Mexico City and tries to reproduce the gay life of the capital in her little town. She shocks the town with her indecent dress and shameless flirtations. In the end, stabbed to death by jealous Damián, she dies forgiving him and putting the blame for her death on her own actions.

Gabriel

Gabriel (gah-bree-EHL), a young man reared by Don Dionisio. His religious life is upset by four talks with Victoria, a young widow from Guadalajara who is visiting the town.

Luis Gonzaga Pérez

Luis Gonzaga Pérez (lew-EES gohn-SAH-gah PEH-rehs), once a talented seminary student. Being convinced by Padre Islas of the evil of his natural desires toward the opposite sex, he ends up drawing pictures on the walls of his cell in an insane asylum.

Lucas Macías

Lucas Macías (lew-KAHS mah-SEE-ahs), a fortune-teller whose prophecies concerning Halley’s Comet upset his fellow villagers. Just before his death, receiving news of Madero’s revolt, he declares in the words of the title: “The rains are coming [the edge of the storm]. We’ll have a fine clearing shower.”

Mercedes Toledo

Mercedes Toledo (toh-LEH-doh), a young girl of the town.

Victoria

Victoria, a young widow visiting from Guadalajara.

Bibliography

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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 205

Brushwood, John S. The Spanish American Novel: A Twentieth-Century Survey. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1975. Situates Yáñez’s novel in the nineteenth century by discussing the major characteristics and innovations of fiction. Analyzes the contribution of The Edge of the Storm to Spanish American literature.

Langford, Walter M. The Mexican Novel Comes of Age. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1971. Explains why the publication of The Edge of the Storm marks a significant accomplishment in the development of the Mexican novel. Discusses the structure of Yáñez’s work.

Lindstrom, Naomi. Twentieth-Century Spanish American Fiction. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994. Defines the continuities that link the different periods in modern Spanish American literature. Discusses significant elements in The Edge of the Storm.

O’Neill, Samuel J. “Interior Monologue in ‘Al filo del agua.’” Hispania 51 (1968): 447-455. Presents the psychological technique involving the stream of consciousness. Gives a fascinating interpretation of Yáñez’s portrayal of the inhabitants living in a small isolated town.

Sommers, Joseph. After the Storm: Landmarks of the Modern Mexican Novel. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1968. Evaluates the significance of Yáñez’s work in the history of the novel. Furnishes an informative commentary on the novelist’s epoch.

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