Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

The narrator

The narrator, the main character, a member of a conservative family and observer of the history of Región during the 1920’s and the 1930’s, a crucial period during which Región, as a microcosm of Spain, is preparing for a civil war. He relies on memory to present, again and again, some facts and characters that change and become distorted by time.


Mary, the cousin of the narrator. She is the only member of his clan who crosses the boundary that separates his family from the house of the Ruan family, another powerful clan of Región. Mary weds Julian, the instructor of the Ruan children. Julian is a republican who goes into exile after the Spanish Civil War. In the United States, Mary divorces Julian and marries a physician, with whom she goes back to Región, where she lives for a while with her former family, with the Ruan family, and at their new home. After Mary’s death, the house is abandoned by her husband.

Emilio Ruiz

Emilio Ruiz (eh-MEE-lee-oh rrew-EES), the fiancé of Mary’s eldest sister. A rich landowner and the owner of a mine, he is a conservative who becomes—without marrying Mary’s sister—the leader of her conservative family. He succeeds in alienating Mary and her new husband.

Jorge Ruan

Jorge Ruan (HOHR-heh

(The entire section is 468 words.)

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

A Meditation is filled with characters who are governed by strange fixations. For example, the grandfather is so obsessed with his liqueur that he is certain that Carlos Bonaval has stolen and commercially exploited the recipe. Cayetano Corral spends his entire life in his workshop tinkering with clocks. Jorge is fixated on rats. The Indian, who killed his father, masturbates incessantly in front of a picture of his mother. These traits serve to distinguish the characters, who hardly have identities apart from their manias.

Benet’s female characters are distinctly sexual beings. Mary, who left for America with her exiled husband, bore children, and returned with a new mate, is representative of the woman who seeks her authentic self by disregarding society’s norms and following her passions. Instead of finding freedom and happiness, however, Mary degenerates physically and emotionally.

No character acquires depth or develops through the course of the novel. Most are vague. For example, no one knows why the man called the Indian is known by that name; he is not, in fact, an Indian. Many of the characters are easily confused with one another, among them Mary, Leo, and Laura. Nor do the characters communicate with one another. Although there are fragments of speech throughout the novel, there is no real dialogue. There is no “I-you” relationship, but only one “I” existing alongside another. Even the letter from Cayetano...

(The entire section is 541 words.)