Agustín Yáñez portrays a village that appears somber on the outside, as shown by the women wearing all-black clothes, but where desires usually remain hidden and occasionally burst forth.
On moonlight nights, the spirits of desire and fear escape in a mad race; one can hear their turbulent flight, along the street, over the walls, Over the rooftops…. On moonlight nights, it is the spirits of desire which always lead; the fears run behind, urging them to wait….
Damián left Mexico to seek fame and fortune in the United States, but he comes home saying he mostly learned about disrespect and discrimination. In the land to the North, “Mexicans are treated like dogs.”
The conflicting attitudes of several priests reflect the complexities of Church control over rural society. The centrist character, Father Dionisio, embodies these contradictions as he sees change foretelling winter and his own demise, rather than promising a better life.
[He] had gradually become convinced by evidence that things were changing and his flock could not escape the changes; it was a feeling in the air, like the warm wind that announces nearby land, like the smell of smoke at harvest time, like the cold air that, one morning or afternoon, is a harbinger of winter.
Don Timoteo suffers constantly because he killed a man 25 years earlier. He is consumed with guilt, which resurfaces near the anniversary. He not only becomes convinced that every church bell tolling is marking his own death, but he also has auditory hallucinations of their ringing.
He clearly heard a sung of bells not run by human hands; the strokes went straight to his heart…. All they that take the sword shall perish by the sword…. On the seventh of August it would be twenty-five years since Anacleto had died by Don Timoteo’s hand, and with every return, the dead man’s expression was more vivid and threatening.