Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 619
Platero (plah-TEH-roh), a donkey, whose name roughly means “silver one” in recognition of his color. He is a synthesis of many such donkeys that the author knew. He has many functions in the prose poems, the most basic of which are companion, confidant, and perfect listener. He is presented as a child, an adult, and an animal. The author frequently shares Platero with the children who appear in the poems. At times, Platero is a mere donkey helping another donkey extract a cart that is stuck in the mud; at other times, he is one of the children, kicking up his heels and running around; and at others, he is a gift or toy that the author shares with children.
Darbón (dahr-BOHN), Platero’s veterinarian. Descriptions of Darbón are excellent examples of literary caricature. His aged and toothless face becomes the substance of Darbón’s appearance.
Don José, (hoh-SEH) the Priest, one of the many examples of hypocrites whom the author chastises. A man of the cloth and humble priest in church, at home Don José curses and throws stones at the children and at the poor and hungry people who try to take fruit from his orchard.
Frasco Vélez (FRAHS-koh VEH-lehs), the mayor of the town, a hypocrite like Don José. He uses the power of his office to create subterfuges that allow him to smuggle agave and fig brandy into town. Such is the case of his proclamation that unmuzzled dogs found walking the streets will be shot. This alludes to the presence in the area of rabid dogs, something that would keep people off the streets and out of the way while Vélez smuggles his goods.
Antonia (ahn-TOH-nee-ah), who is typical of the many children who interact with Platero. Dressed in her best Sunday clothing, Antonia looks for a place to cross a rain-swollen stream. The author offers her Platero. Although initially hesitant, Antonia mounts the donkey and crosses the stream. Platero is as pleased with the experience as Antonia is with reaching the other side.
Lipiani (lee-pee-AH-nee), the schoolteacher, who enjoys taking his students on short trips into the countryside because, on these outings, he demands and gets half of each student’s lunch for himself, and thus saves money on his own food.
Anilla la Manteca
Anilla la Manteca (ah-NEE-yah lah mahn-TEH-kah), one of the adults who enjoys playing children’s games. She loves to dress up in a sheet, put white makeup on her face, and frighten the children for fun. Dressed that way, she is killed one night by a bolt of lightning.
Judas, more a custom than a specific character. The townspeople hang Judas in effigy during Holy Week for his treason to Christ. In fact, they hang many throughout the streets and then fire on them with their shotguns on Holy Saturday. The author relates that the Judas (traitor) of his time is the politician, teacher, lawyer, tax collector, mayor, or anyone else that the people hate, on whom they vent their anger in this absurd ritual.
Three old Gypsy women
Three old Gypsy women, One is blind; the other two are taking her to a doctor. Old, dirty, and poorly clothed, they are the nameless poor for whom society has no use. The little daughter of the charcoal vendor is drawn from the same rugged poverty. One character, “She,” is nothing more than a blond head veiled in black that the author sees through the window of a passing train. Others are shepherds or wounded hunters, all from the poor side of life that previously had been absent from the author’s writings.