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Esmeralda Summary

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Verónica, a great beauty of eighteen, is a member of an extended family living in her great-aunt Leonor’s house in Texas. She works as a model in a theater, where she simply sits in a booth, her beauty framed by “a round glass house.” The narrator, Nenita, first meets her when Verónica and her mother come to live at Leonor’s house. Nenita is curious about Verónica because she is so quiet and has a mysterious air. Nenita senses that there is something about Verónica that the family is leaving unspoken. Even more intriguing is the fact that Verónica never visits her former home at her uncle Alfredo’s ranch.

After a newspaper columnist writes about Verónica, she becomes a minor public figure and attracts increased attention from men. Troubled by the notoriety that the newspaper column has brought her, she breaks into tears when her cousin Orión teases her by reciting the first line of a famous poem by Federico García Lorca: “Green how I love you green” (“Verde que te quiero verde”), which alludes to the columnist’s calling her “a shining emerald” (“una esmeralda brillante”).

Leonor consoles Verónica and advises her to quit her job at the theater the next day. Leonor points out how men call their piropos compliments but that such behavior is “really self-indulgence.” Verónica then explains how she came to leave her uncle’s ranch five years earlier, when she and a seventeen-year-old worker named Omar were attracted to each other. Gentle and sweet-natured, Omar brought her gifts such as cactus flowers and fruit. Forbidden to see each other, they spoke together through her window at night. One night when the whole house seemed to be asleep, they finally dared to meet on the porch, where they talked and kissed. At that moment, Alfredo appeared. In a rage, he slapped Omar and threw him off the porch, then yanked Verónica around, screaming obscenities and calling her a whore. Verónica believes that Alfredo had Omar killed, but Leonor tells her that he simply had Omar deported.

Taken aback, Nenita asks why Alfredo has interfered. Leonor can only answer that that is how things are. It is further revealed that Alfredo’s wife will not leave him herself, but she has seen to it that their five children grow up in other family members’ houses, away from him. Reassured by this conversation, Verónica says that she will continue to work at the theater. Later, Nenita and Verónica discuss how Omar was gentle and giving, while the twins Orión and Orso are loud and boorish. On the opposite end of the scale is Alfredo, whose own children openly profess to hate him.

Nenita, who has regularly walked home with Verónica since the latter’s notoriety began, arrives late one evening. She runs after Verónica, catching up with her at the same time that the two Mondragón brothers stop the car in which they have been following Verónica. After a struggle, the brothers drive off with Verónica. Nenita runs home to report what has happened. Orión and Orso go off to find Verónica’s abductors. Nenita begins to call the police,...

(The entire section is 827 words.)