Juan Preciado (hwahn preh-see-AH-doh), the protagonist and point-of-view character of the novel. A young, curious man, Juan decides to research and discover his past after the death of his mother. Juan returns to the dusty provincial town of Comala in search of the man he knows to be his father, Pedro Páramo. Although he finds the town virtually deserted and Páramo dead, he continues to investigate the events that have brought the town to its current state. He talks with the local inhabitants who remain. Literally suffocated by the paralysis and despair of Comala, Juan dies in the middle of the novel. Even after his death, his consciousness remains alive and gives reports on the life and fate of his cruel father.
Pedro Páramo (PEH-droh PAHR-ah-moh), the local chieftain of the village of Comala, dead by the time the novel begins. Pedro Páramo is a loveless man, without soul or pity, who lives to control and dominate others. Although he lacks a distinguished family background, Pedro rises to the top of the village hierarchy by a ruthless process of exploitation. Pedro bullies more timid men and through force and deceit neutralizes other potential power centers in the village, such as Father Rentería and Bartolomé San Juan. Pedro gathers all power to himself and uses it neither to benefit others nor to improve the quality of life in the desperately poor village. Pedro’s rampaging, promiscuous sexuality leads him to affairs with many women and the fathering of several children. Unscrupulous, insensitive, and dedicated to graft and tyranny, Pedro has one emotional soft spot: his love for Susana San Juan. When she dies, Pedro, through his semimagical powers, leaves the town...
(The entire section is 754 words.)