Characters

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The characters of "New Islands" by María Luisa Bombal, a short story published in America (in translation) in a collection in 1982, are few but provocative. The dual protagonists are Juan Manuel, the middle-aged widower who travels to an hacienda several hours away from Buenos Aires. From there, he goes with a group to investigate a new island, and there stays on the hacienda of the other (female) protagonist, Yolanda, and her brother Federico. Yolanda seems to be about middle age; however, the character of Yolanda's previous lover, Don Sylvester, tells Juan Manuel that she broke off their marriage thirty years prior to the time in which the story is set. Yolanda wrote Sylvester a letter claiming that their marriage was not possible but never explained why. Yolanda has recurring nightmares and is possibly a supernatural character, as Juan Manuel finds her in secret looking at what seems to be a vestigial wing on her shoulder.

In addition to these four, the minor characters outside of the island include Juan Manuel's mother and his son, Billy, with whom Juan Manuel lives in Buenos Aires. Finally, Juan Manuel's wife, Elsa, has been dead for five years in the time of the novel's setting, but she continues to have an effect on Juan Manuel, who is too scared to pursue Yolanda in favor of a comfortable and rational life in Buenos Aires.

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