Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 560
Abel Guevez de Argensola
Abel Guevez de Argensola (ah-BEHL geh-VEHS deh ahr-gehn-SOH-lah), a Venezuelan living in Georgetown, British Guiana. Uninterested in politics, sport, or commerce, he loves the world of nature and the spirit. As a youth he was involved in an abortive Caracas political conspiracy. Fleeing for his life, he disappeared into the Guayana wilderness and lived for some months among the Indians and with Nuflo and Rima. Loving Rima with an etherealized but passionate love, he (with Nuflo) accompanied her in a fruitless search for her mother’s people. Maddened and grief-stricken upon learning of Rima’s murder, he fled from Runi’s village, returned after it was sacked by Managa, gathered Rima’s ashes in an urn, and, half-dead, finally reached Georgetown, where he has since lived. Having loved and lost Rima, he understands the loneliness she felt when she longed for her mother’s people.
Riolama (rree-oh-LAH-mah), or Rima (RREE-mah), a girl of the Venezuelan forest. Daughter of an unknown father and a mysterious young woman whose life Nuflo saved about seventeen years earlier, she has been brought up by the old man, who pretends that he is her grandfather. Slim, less than five feet tall, with delicately small hands and feet, she is like the wood nymphs of ancient legend or like the spirit of nature itself in its beautiful, mysterious aspects. Her abundant dark iridescent hair is cloudlike, her pale skin seems at times almost transparent, and her dark eyes are lustrous. In the forest, she is like a wild creature, but one that fears no harm and will permit no harm to other creatures; there, she utters a beautiful, birdlike language in a lovely, warbling voice. In Nuflo’s lodge she is shy and reticent and speaks Spanish, in which she also converses with Abel. When occasionally angered, she reminds Abel of a beautiful wasp, as stinging words issue from her. After the trip to Riolama and the final realization that it was a vain illusion that she would find her mother’s people, she confesses her love for Abel. Returning to Nuflo’s lodge ahead of Nuflo and Abel, she is found in a tree by Runi’s men and is burned to death.
Nuflo (NEW-floh), a white-bearded, brown-skinned old hunter with whom Rima lives. To avoid offending her, he sneaks away to kill forest animals and cook them for himself and his two foul-smelling dogs. A frequent critic of the state of the world, he superstitiously believes that Rima has supernatural powers that she might use to make things better, especially for an old man with many sins on his conscience. He is killed by Indians.
Runi (RREW-nee), a Guayana Indian chief, a friend and later an enemy of Abel.
Kua-kó (KEW-ah-KOH), nephew of Runi and friend of Abel, whom he teaches to use a blowpipe in the hope that he will kill Rima, for the Indians regard her as an evil spirit, a daughter of the Didi. After telling Abel of the burning of Rima, he pursues when Abel flees and is stabbed to death.
Cla-Cla (KLAH-klah), a talkative, wrinkled old woman, grandmother of Kua-kó.
Managa (mah-NAHN-gah), chief of an Indian tribe at enmity with Runi. Abel flees to Managa after killing Kua-kó and incites him to kill Runi and the murderers of Rima.