Themes and Meanings
Laura and Braggioni obviously live by different sets of values. The latter, who masquerades as a professional philanthropist, loves himself most of all and will exploit the revolution and the people whenever it is to his advantage. He will never die for his principles or his love for humanity. He is an egomaniac who uses people and things for his own benefit. Laura, in contrast, is filled with guilt to the point that she suffers from moral paralysis. She merely goes through the motions of being a teacher and rebel without understanding the reasons behind them. While Braggioni will betray anyone, Laura betrays herself. She is unable to compromise between her concept of life as it should be and life as it is. The chaotic world of revolutionary Mexico overwhelms her.
Braggioni is the primary problem for Laura, who has a romantic view of what a revolutionary leader should be. He does not have the gauntness, the heroic faith, the abstract virtues associated with the ideal leader; his bulk, Jockey Club clothes, selfishness, and indifference to political prisoners offend her. She is also worried by his courtship. The threat of violence is always in the background. He is fascinated by his power, which includes the right to own things and people. He indulges in his love of small luxuries, and Laura fears that she is being placed in that category; he eventually may demand more from her than delivering messages and cleaning his guns. She may be only an interlude for...
(The entire section is 588 words.)