Abel (ah-BEHL), a World War II veteran who returns to Wolatowa, his native pueblo, in 1945. Thick-chested and stocky, but also agile and athletic, he was orphaned at the age of five, when his mother died, and has been reared by his grandfather, Francisco. Reserved and stoic in his dealings with others, he is out of harmony with the rich traditional life of Wolatowa, in part because of painful memories of childhood but also because of his traumatic war experiences. Sentenced to prison for killing an albino from his village whom he thought was a witch, he is paroled and “relocated” in Los Angeles, where he leads a rootless, alcoholic life.
Francisco, Abel’s maternal grandfather. In his late seventies when Abel returns from the war, he was one of the great runners in Wolatowa’s ceremonial races when he was younger but is now crippled by disease and a lifetime of hard work. He possesses great personal dignity and is devoted to the rich ceremonial traditions of Wolatowa, which are to him a harmonious mixture of Christian and pagan elements. His death in 1952 begins Abel’s reaffirmation of the cultural values of his native place.
Father Olguin (ohl-GEEN), the priest at Wolatowa. Born in Mexico, he is small and swarthy. Because he is weary, is prematurely gray, and has one blind eye, he seems older than his years. He is...
(The entire section is 610 words.)