The Miracle of the Birds Summary
by Jorge Amado

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The Miracle of the Birds Summary

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The narrator begins by declaring that the miracle he is about to relate was witnessed by hundreds of townspeople, as it took place on a market day. In addition, the illustrious visitor being fêted that day, the widow of the renowned regional novelist Graciliano Ramos—a notoriously truthful woman—can testify to its veracity.

The reader is then introduced to the protagonist: Ubaldo Capadócio, widely celebrated as a lover, minstrel, and composer of popular ballads. His antagonist is also identified: Captain Lindolfo Ezequiel, who is best known as a hired killer and the husband of Sabô, the latter occupation demanding constant vigilance. Sabô is distinguished not only by her beauty and desirability but also by the lack of respect that she pays to her husband’s position. She flaunts herself in front of all, but given the captain’s violent possessiveness, none dare respond—that is, until Ubaldo arrives in town. Ignorant of local custom and ever ready to accommodate a lovely woman, Ubaldo will find himself, the narrator divulges, dressed in her nightgown, braving her husband.

Following this brash preface, the narrator details Ubaldo’s reputation as a minstrel and ladies’ man. His talents as an entertainer are such that he coaxes laughter from the deceased at a wake. As a lover, he is so constant that he never sends a woman away—any of them. He has three women to whom he is devoted, if not lawfully wedded, and nine children, three of them not biologically his. One came with the comely mulatto woman who, though she relented and left her husband for him, would not be parted from her little boy. Another was adopted after being left motherless at six months; the third was picked up by the side of a back-country road.

Ubaldo arrives in Piranhas, scene of the miracle, flush from a successful tour of the rugged Alagoan backlands. The narrator injects that the balladeer has gotten into trouble over women before. He has jumped out of windows and over fences and walls and has plunged into rivers; once a bullet grazed his jacket. Undaunted while the captain is out of town on business for some congressmen, Ubaldo finds his way to Sabô’s bed.

Ezequiel inexplicably doubles back on his tracks. With a curious crowd gathering behind him, he storms into his...

(The entire section is 595 words.)