General Malacara (mahl-ah-KAH-rah), the highest ranking individual among the throng of former federal officials fleeing the capital by train. Like the other refugees who share the hospital car, he is a social parasite and a self-serving opportunist whose loyalty evaporates when his political faction loses control. His only concerns are escape, survival, and realignment. Because he is the most promising link to the protection of Francisco Villa, once the train is under way, everyone courts his favor. He makes promises of help only in the hope of gaining some advantage, and he rarely delivers. He is a debauched libertine. In spite of the perilous circumstances, he initiates a drunken party and publicly cavorts with Cachucha and Manuela, women young enough to be his granddaughters.
Marta Reyes-Téllez (RREH-yehs-TEH-yehs), a strong-willed, essentially silly, middle-aged widow who knows how to take care of her family. Even though she has never worked, she understands better than do her employed children the moral flexibility and hypocrisy required to secure and protect a government job. She believes that she and her family, because of their social and political connections, are morally superior to virtually all others.
(The entire section is 505 words.)