Characters Discussed

Carlos de Mello

Carlos de Mello (MEH-yoh), the protagonist and narrator, whose life in Recife, in the state of Paraíba, Brazil, comes to a sudden end when his father murders his mother in a rage of insanity. Carlos is only four years old when he sees his blood-covered mother dead and his father taken away to an asylum for the insane. He never sees his father again. Only three days later, he leaves the city for his maternal grandfather’s sugar plantation in the country, Santa Rosa, where he learns to be a “plantation boy.” At the plantation, Carlos learns a new way of life and is initiated into the mysteries of sex at an early age. First, he watches animals procreate, then he experiments with animals himself. He has a precocious relationship with a girl named Judith and develops an abiding interest in masturbation. At the age of twelve, he first has sex with a woman and promptly gets a painful case of syphilis that requires extensive treatment. He is cured in time to go away to boarding school, but he takes with him his morbid fear of death and disease, his deep pessimism, and his nervous nature—all the result of the tragic events in his early years.

Colonel José Paulino Cazuza

Colonel José Paulino Cazuza (hoh-SEH pow-LEE-noh kah-SEW-sah), Carlos’ maternal grandfather, owner of the Santa...

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Chamberlin, Bobby J. “José Lins do Rêgo.” In Latin American Writers, edited by Carlos A. Solé and Maria Isabel Abreu. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1989. A fine introduction for the beginning reader of Lins do Rego. Notes the autobiographical elements of his work along with its regional and folkloric influences.

Ellison, Fred. P. Brazil’s New Novel: Four Northeastern Masters. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1954. Provides an excellent introduction to the new Brazilian regionalism of the 1930’s and 1940’s. One chapter is devoted to an examination of Lins do Rego’s works. A classic in the field.

Hulet, Claude L. “José Lins do Rêgo.” In Brazilian Literature 3, 1920-1960: Modernism. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1975. An anthology of Brazilian literature in Portuguese with introductions in English. Short biography of Lins do Rego followed by critical commentary. Discussion of Lins do Rego’s style and techniques.

“José Lins do Rêgo (Calvalcânti).” In World Authors, 1950-1970, edited by John Wakeman. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1975. Gives an overview of Lins do Rego’s life and summarizes each of the novels of the Sugar Cane Cycle. Includes a brief discussion of Lins do Rego’s detailed naturalism and simple, direct style.

Vincent, Jon. “José Lins do Rêgo.” In Dictionary of Brazilian Literature, edited by Irwin Stein. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988. Provides an overview of Lins do Rego’s life and work and discusses his involvement in the Region-Tradition school of thought and writing founded by the great Brazilian sociologist, Gilberto Freyre.