Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 259
The principal characters of The Family of Pascual Duarte are:
--Pascual. He is a man from the Spanish countryside, the province of Badajoz not far from the Portuguese border. The story unfolds as a confession Pascual has written while awaiting execution for his crimes. He tells us at the start that he "is not a bad person," and seems to attribute his criminal behavior to destiny.
--Esteban Duarte Diniz, Pascual's father. He is a cruel, ignorant man, abusive to both his wife and to Pascual.
--Pascual's mother. She is cold and abusive as well, and has few, if any, positive qualities.
--Señor Rafael, Pascual's mother's lover.
--Señora Engracia, the village midwife.
--Mario, Pascual's brother who dies as a child.
--Rosario, Pascual's sister, who becomes a sex worker.
--Paco Lopez, also known as El Estirao, or "Stretch" (in Anthony Kerrigan's translation.) He is Rosario's boyfriend and procurer.
--Lola, Pascual's wife. She miscarries Pascual's first child, and the second dies at the age of eleven months. Later, she is going to have a child by Paco Lopez, and when at the moment she confesses this to Pascual, she drops dead in his arms. Pascual then kills The Stretch in a knife fight.
--Don Conrado, governor of the prison, who is sympathetic to Pascual during his first incarceration.
--Don Joaquin Barrera, the man to whom Pascual has directed his confession or memoir.
--The Transcriber, who happened to find Pascual's memoir in a pharmacy in Almendralejo, the town which Pascual has described as located about two leagues from his home village.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 751
Pascual Duarte (pahs-KWAHL DWAR-teh), a peasant of Extremadura, Spain, who has a murderous destiny. He tries to alleviate the tensions and hostility of his life by acts of ferocity. His first acts of violence—the killing of animals, tavern fights, and even the murder of his wife’s lover, El Estirao—seem to occur spontaneously in moments of rage, but the murder of his mother is premeditated. He also shoots his grandmother and may be responsible for the death of the village patriarch, Don Jesús González de la Riva, during an uprising at the start of the Spanish Civil War. His life story, written as he awaits execution, is an attempt at least to explain, if not to justify, his cruelty. He claims to have made his peace with God and humanity and is ready to die, but his end is as ignominious as his life. His courage fails him, and he must be dragged to the scaffold, crying out that no one has the right to judge him.
Pascual’s mother, whose name is not given. A drunkard, slovenly and illiterate, she is the devil incarnate in her son’s eyes. Pascual is accustomed to her constant belittlement and scorn of him. It is her cruelty toward her handicapped young son Mario, Pascual’s brother, that serves as the catalyst for Pascual’s growing resentment and hate. These emotions and her treatment of his second wife finally incite him to murder.
Rosario (roh-SAHR-ee-oh), Pascual’s beautiful younger sister, who is the only softening influence in the family. She is adored by her parents and by Pascual. Their lives are shattered when she runs away and becomes a prostitute. She returns home, ill with fever, and almost dies. The family nurses her back to health, but she soon leaves again, unable to break away from her abusive relationship with El Estirao, a pimp. Rosario is the only one who seems to have genuine affection for Pascual. When he returns home after serving his sentence for killing El Estirao, he finds Rosario gone. This loss leads him to his final condemnation.
Mario, Pascual’s handicapped little brother. Retarded, unable to walk, and unloved and scorned by his mother, Mario spends his days groveling in the dirt like an animal. In fact, he is treated worse than a dog by everyone except Rosario. In a horrifying moment, his ears are eaten by pigs. He is found drowned in a vat of oil, perhaps murdered by his mother’s lover, Rafael, who may be his biological father.
Esteban Duarte Dinaz
Esteban Duarte Dinaz (ehs-TEH-bahn DWAR-teh dee-NAHS), Pascual’s father. Esteban is a drunken bully who once served time in prison. Proud of his own ability to read and write, he tries to better his son’s condition by sending him to school. Two days before Mario is born, he is bitten by a rabid dog. Locked in a closet, he dies mad. His wife laughs when she sees the fearful expression on the face of the corpse.
El Estirao (ehs-tee-ROW), Rosario’s pimp and lover. He is called El Estirao (meaning “stretched” and “pulled taut”) because of the upright, rigid manner of his walk. He is admired by the men of the village for his cockiness, self-assurance, and pride. He is a bully who lives off women. When Pascual abandons his family for a time, he has an affair with Pascual’s wife. Pascual kills him but has to admit that the man is not a coward.
Lola, Pascual’s first wife. She marries Pascual after discovering she is pregnant as the result of what could be seen as Pascual’s rape of her. After the miscarriage of this first baby and the death in early infancy of a second, her sorrow and resentment drive Pascual away. She has an affair with El Estirao and becomes pregnant. Astonished at Pascual’s return to the village, she confesses what she has done and then dies mysteriously in his arms. Her death may be caused by grief, shame, or fright, or Pascual himself may be responsible.
Esperanza (ehs-peh-RAHN-sah), Pascual’s timid second wife. His mother’s treatment of her convinces Pascual that he must murder the older woman before she also poisons his second marriage.
Don Manuel, the curate of the village and the only one who believes that Pascual has potential. He helps Pascual to arrange his marriage to Lola.