Ana Ozores (oh-SOH-rehs), the judge’s wife. She is a beautiful, sensitive woman of twenty-seven who has endured eight years of a childless marriage. A tireless reader of mystical and romantic literature, she longs to escape the suffocating world of the provincial capital in which she lives, the imaginary city of Vetusta. Her fabled virtue as a model wife is imperiled as she finds herself alternately torn between the promise of sexual fulfillment offered by the libertine Don Alvaro and the hope of spiritual communion with the priest Fermín de Pas. Ultimately, she succumbs to an adulterous affair with the former, which concludes with her husband’s death and her own complete ostracism by the community.
Victor Quintanar (keen-tah-NAHR), the chief stipendiary magistrate of the provincial court, now retired. Already in his fifties, he behaves more as a father than as a husband to his young wife, Ana. He encourages the nervous Ana to socialize more and thus inadvertently propels her into the arms of another man. Among his passions are hunting, fencing, and the reading of Spanish seventeenth century honor plays. When cuckolded, he is ironically unable to commit the murderous vengeance prescribed by the literature he so avidly consumes. He demands a duel of Alvaro but is killed unheroically by a single shot that ruptures his bladder.
Fermín de Pas
Fermín de Pas (fehr-MEEN deh pahs), a canon theologian and vicar-general of the Diocese of Vetusta. He is, at thirty-five years of age, a man of superior intelligence, physical strength, and worldliness. Once a lowly cowherd, he has risen to the position of the most powerful churchman in his city and as such is an object of both admiration and envy. As Ana’s new confessor, he initially views her as a kindred soul, spiritually superior to the mediocrity of Vetusta; later, he falls prey to a purely human love based on his physical attraction to her.
Alvaro Mesía (AHL-vah-roh meh-
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