*Ilhéus (ihl-YAY-us). Hot and humid port on the seacoast of tropical northeastern Brazil’s Bahia state, where most of the action takes place. After years of violent land disputes among the powerful cacao barons, Ilhéus is enjoying an economic boom. Amado chronicles the folkways and growing prosperity of the town, depicting with subtle irony and humor the elite cacao planters, who enjoy houses in Ilhéus, where they keep their mistresses and control local politics. His other characters include members of the intelligentsia, titled aristocracy, urban-class professionals, prostitutes, gunmen, and migrants escaping the drought of the backlands.
*Sandbar. Natural obstacle in Ilhéus’s harbor that is the principal problem preventing large ships from entering the harbor, thereby threatening the prosperity of Ilhéus. Mundinho Falcão, a bachelor and wealthy, politically ambitious exporter recently arrived from Rio de Janeiro, wants to improve the harbor. Through his family and political contacts, he eventually succeeds in bringing an engineer, skilled workmen, and equipment to dredge the harbor. This ensures his political success, especially when his rival, Ramiro Bastos, dies.
*Town square. Center of life in Ilhéus. Located here is the church, where prayers are offered up for relief from drought or floods threatening to ruin the cacao crop. The women gather here to gossip. The Model Stationery Store, where the intelligentsia gather to discuss politics, is located here. Also here are the houses of the wealthy: Colonel...
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