Heraclio Inés (ehr-AH-clee-oh ee-NEHS), the youngest of five brothers born into a family of horsemen, a fact that places him above the peasants in the oppressive social structure of the Hacienda de la Flor but below the owner, Don Aurelio Becerra, his godfather. After mastering his craft and the code of honor that attends it, Heraclio casts off the rigid authority of his family in order to fulfill his individual potential, something that the prevailing sociopolitical tradition in Mexico would deny him. In an assertion of his independence, Heraclio enters into a passionate affair with Don Aurelio’s daughter. When threatened with exposure and violence, Heraclio kills a man; thereafter, seeking refuge from the brutality of the rural police, he joins a group of bandits and, eventually, the forces of Pancho Villa. Democratically at one with the people and moved always by his growing sense of justice, Heraclio fights hard for the revolution only to see the cause fail as Mexico falls once again into the grips of easy compromise and corruption. In his last revolutionary act and in order to preserve his integrity, Heraclio executes a traitor. Defeated but not broken, he then leaves Mexico for exile in the United States.
David Contreras (kohn-TREHR-ahs), the illegitimate peasant son of Don Aurelio and a healer. David befriends Heraclio...
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