The Characters

Eva Luna is not only Allende’s protagonist and narrator but also the character whom the reader comes to know best. As she tells the story of her life, Eva seems to be supremely honest. For example, she admits that she is often rebellious, but without that trait, she comments, she might not have survived. For someone who has suffered as much as she has, she is amazingly devoid of self-pity. When she recalls one of the beatings administered by her godmother, Eva simply says that the neighbors came over to stop the beating and then used salt to cure her wounds. The very fact that she does not attempt to elicit pity makes one more sympathetic to her plight. The reason Eva can distance herself from such unhappy events, as well as from happy ones such as her days and nights of lovemaking, is that above all, she is a storyteller. Even when life betrays her, she can rewrite it in her imagination, as she probably is doing at the end of the novel when she imagines an everlasting love.

Of all the other characters in the novel, Rolf is the most complex. In one sense, he is shown as a male equivalent to Eva. Because both of them have been so mistreated as children—Eva by her godmother and her employers, Rolf by his father—their commitment to unqualified love seems almost miraculous. One must give both of them much of the credit for preserving their souls as well as their bodies. While his father was still alive, Rolf worried more about his sister than about himself, and after his father was killed, Rolf was so...

(The entire section is 621 words.)

Characters Discussed

Eva Luna

Eva Luna (EH-vah LEW-nah), the narrator. The child of a servant, after her mother’s death she is put out to work. Exploited and abused by her various employers and by the godmother who appropriates her earnings, Eva finds her refuge among the lowly and the outcasts. From her mother, Eva Luna learned to invent stories. These not only enable her to escape from the harshness of real life but also eventually to make her way in the world. At first, she simply tells stories to entertain people, but after learning to read and write, Eva becomes a scriptwriter for a successful television series. Eva uses her program to attack her country’s oppressive government. In a guerrilla camp, Eva meets Rolf Carlé, who appears to be the man of her dreams. After defeating her old fear of love, she attains her fulfillment as a woman.

Rolf Carlé

Rolf Carlé (kahr-LAY), an Austrian. The youngest child of a schoolmaster who went to war shortly after his birth, Rolf survives the Russian occupation only to discover that in fact his worst enemy is his father, who has returned to torment his family. After the schoolmaster is murdered by his students, Rolf realizes that he is as guilty as they are and becomes ill. Sent to South America to live with distant relatives in a European settlement called La Colonia, Rolf becomes part of a happy household. Rolf leaves to pursue work as a filmmaker. In the course of making a documentary, Rolf meets Eva Luna and falls in love. Back in La Colonia...

(The entire section is 657 words.)