The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

In The Final Mist one observes a sharp dichotomy between men and women. Ownership, domination of nature, and sports are activities which define the masculine, whereas femininity is a synonym of passivity and empty leisure. The relationship between both sexes is established through the institution of marriage, which is depicted as women’s only possible goal in life, as well as a structure of female subjugation. From the author’s feminine perspective, vis-à-vis the traditional conception of femininity, there are other experiences such as eroticism and the ancestral ties with nature which are sanctioned yet repressed by conventional society. Thus, as a result of these marginal experiences, women’s existence is condemned to anguish and frustration. In this sense, The Final Mist must be considered a powerful statement about the social predicament of Latin American women in a world dominated by masculine values. This basic conflict is illustrated by an unresolved dilemma between the protagonist’s intimate desires and social conventions which prevent her from attaining love. Social values have forced her into marriage with a man she does not love in order to escape the stigma of spinsterhood in a society which made marriage women’s only destiny. Burdened by spiritual dissatisfaction and erotic frustration, she is forced into an anguished search for love. As a typical feminine heroine, she undergoes a spiritual adventure that leads her to a...

(The entire section is 435 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

The protagonist

The protagonist, whose name is never revealed, a woman who very subjectively narrates her own feelings of frustration and loneliness. She posits that they are a result of her husband’s disinterest in her, in particular, and society’s treatment of women, in general. Afraid of old age and incapable of expressing her true feelings to a despotic husband, she lives an existence permanently tainted and defined by a withdrawal into herself. She consciously opts for a fantasy world in which her repressed sexuality finally finds an outlet. It is only then that her love and observation of her own body become positive traits. Her marriage is a failure from the very start, and every contact with her husband is a constant reminder of that fact. The logical world limits and closes her within a boringly repetitive and senseless world, and her dream lover liberates her. Her mental activity establishes different mechanisms for self-realization only when Regina, her husband’s sister-in-law, shows her how a woman can truly respond to her own innermost desires. The protagonist’s flights of fantasy and reliance on reason and practicality, however, condemn her to the passive existence she had at the start of the novel. She never becomes aware that such constraints can be fought, for they are imposed by a society in which women have at most an unreasonable facsimile of life. She does not fight what by her own description will be a future full of...

(The entire section is 474 words.)