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...
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