The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

By turns, Pito is the raging critic, the forlorn lover, the astute manipulator, and the ingenuous traveler in a world not of his making and for whom there is no resting place, no key, so apparently available to others, with which to unlock its mystery. He is, then, the epitome of the powerless victim of the capricious, aggressive, unfathomable, and ultimately destructive game of life.

His failure rests not on a weakness of will. No character has tried harder to understand this alien place and to empower himself with sufficient control to find a few stolen hours of respite. There is no more telling example of his yearning to be in this world and his resultant failure than that of his bewildering love affair with Chucha, his cousin, one of five daughters whose common paternity Pito questions. His description of her as she with the “darkest complexion,” with a face like a “devilish little monkey, covered all over with fuzz” and with “small white teeth, like a rat” suggests more about Pito’s naïveté than it does about her ugliness. He sees through love’s barrier no better for his abetting of her daily raids on her father’s cash register. His purchase of an oversized bed (for which he is roundly mocked by his friends) and his tolerance of her public disdain toward him garner for him neither happiness nor success.

Increasingly frustrated, he becomes emboldened to seek Chucha’s father’s permission to marry her and asks his...

(The entire section is 464 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Jesús Pérez Gaona

Jesús Pérez Gaona (heh-SEWS PEH-rehs gah-OH-nah), or Pito Perez (PEE-toh), the protagonist, a thin, long-haired, drunken rogue dressed in rags. He works as a street peddler in Morelia. During his vagabond life, he has assumed various occupations, such as druggist’s assistant, sacristan, jailer’s secretary, and general store clerk. His adventures inspire his incisive and satirical observations of human nature. He firmly believes that society’s injustice and hypocrisy have made him a loser. He feels fully justified to lie, cheat, and steal his way through life. He considers his shamelessness to be a sign of his honesty, and he observes that people can relax only when they have no reputation to maintain.

José de Jesús Jiménez

José de Jesús Jiménez (hoh-SEH deh heh-SEWS hee-MEHN-ehs), a corpulent and lethargic druggist. He is Pito Perez’s first master. Pito fled when the druggist discovered Pito’s love affair with the druggist’s wife. Under the druggist’s tutelage, Pito learned the tricks of the pharmaceutical trade.

Father Pureco

Father Pureco (pew-REH-koh), the dim-witted priest of La Huacana, who employed Pito...

(The entire section is 546 words.)