Martín Marco (mahr-TEEN), a chronically impoverished leftist intellectual and freelance writer of articles for daily newspapers in Madrid, Spain. Martín is first seen being thrown out of Doña Rosa’s café for his inability to pay his bill. His nighttime walks through post-civil war Madrid serve as the novel’s principal thread, linking the city’s dispersed locales and its plethora of lower-middle-class denizens. Martín’s republican sympathies oppose him to Francisco Franco’s fascist régime, and his obvious disaffection with Spanish life of the 1940’s may be a contributing factor to his apparent growing dementia. His aimless café-hopping and frequent association with prostitutes mirror the dispirited inertia and moral lassitude of the era. Although Martín’s political leanings tend toward the espousal of a collective responsibility for all Spaniards, he is not above accepting, or even expecting, handouts in the stagnant economy in which all of his fellow citizens must make do. Martín’s emergent mental unbalance is most clearly in evidence in the novel’s final section. Rambling and disoriented, he visits his mother’s grave and contemplates becoming part of the societal establishment he so despises.
Filo (FEE-loh), Martín’s kindhearted sister. She and her accountant husband, Roberto González, have five young children. Barely able to make ends meet with the paltry salary Roberto brings home, Filo must also contend with Martín’s constant expectation of leftover food as well as the intense mutual dislike the brothers-in-law...
(The entire section is 686 words.)