Pedro Rubião de Alvarenga
Pedro Rubião de Alvarenga, a simple schoolteacher known simply as Rubião. He befriends the eccentric and dying Quincas Borba, from whom he unexpectedly inherits a substantial fortune and the obligation to care for the deceased’s dog, also named Quincas Borba. While traveling to Rio de Janeiro, he meets Christiano and Sophia Palha, who introduce him into Rio’s high society. He suffers from his unrequited love for Sophia. A generous man, he lends money freely, gives lavish gifts, and frequently entertains his many new friends, gradually dissipating his fortune. His rise in social status thus leads to his downfall. His descent into madness parallels his descent into poverty. He comes to believe that he is Napoleon, emperor of France.
Christiano Palha, a friend of Rubião. Christiano lives beyond his means, borrowing money from Rubião many times. He goes into partnership with Rubião and tries to restrain Rubião’s impractical generosity. Christiano is particularly proud of his wife Sophia, whose beauty he displays—and uses—at every opportunity. The capital provided by Rubião gives him social mobility. As he rises up the social ladder, he leaves many old friends behind, but he does honor, to some extent, his promise to his wife to see to the care of Rubião.
Sophia Palha, the beautiful and gracious wife of Christiano...
(The entire section is 552 words.)