The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Ana María is a prototype of the Latin American women in the 1930’s who did not have an active participation in economics or politics. Therefore, in the restrictive role of wife and mother, the protagonist searches for love as the only means to achieve a goal in life. Her relations with Ricardo, Antonio, and Fernando reveal three crucial stages in her life: sexual initiation, the passive acceptance of social conventions symbolized by marriage, and erotic sublimation in unconsummated adultery. Significantly, these three stages mark the progressive degradation of those instinctive and primordial elements in feminine character being slowly eroded by societal conformism.

The love experiences with Ricardo are tinged with sensuality nurtured by sensations equated with nature. Ricardo’s adolescent body is compared to the vitality of the wild forest and the indomitable strength of a stallion. His caresses are described as a dark and wild carnation. Ana María ignores social regulations that demand virginity and gives in to instincts deeply rooted in nature. Thus, when she becomes pregnant, she feels completely identified with budding trees, the graceful flight of doves, and the sounds surrounding her. She is, in fact, intimately united to Matter. Ricardo’s abandonment and the accidental abortion destroy this natural and harmonious relationship with nature. She encloses herself in her room and passively accepts Antonio’s marriage proposal.

Married life is...

(The entire section is 606 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Ana María

Ana María, a dead woman who alternately views her mourners, the memories they arouse, and the dramatic landscape of death. A passionate woman and mother of three children, Ana María finds that in death her perceptions are amplified; her emotions are fully realized. Her early beauty returns, and she sees herself as pale, slender, and unwrinkled by time. In life she was imaginative, sensitive, intense, and playful. She journeys through the past and relives her adolescent love for Ricardo, his betrayal, and her subsequent herbally induced abortion; her marriage to Antonio, his love for her and the loss of that love, and her passion for him; the adoration of the luckless Fernando in her later years; and the unhappy loves of her three children. Following heart attacks and a stroke, Ana María dies and witnesses her wake, a journey to the family vault, and her fall to surreal subterranean landscapes. Flowing back to the surface, she roots herself to the world and longs for immersion in death.


Ricardo, Ana María’s adolescent lover and neighbor. As a young man, Ricardo is clear-eyed, tanned, and wiry. A trickster tyrant, he teases Ana María. He is willful, rebellious,and impetuous. Ana María is a childish lover; she does not share his passion but desires his strong arms and the “wild flower” of his kisses. Ricardo deserts Ana María when he goes to study agricultural farming in Europe. On his return, he fails to approach her, then says that he is not to blame for her pregnancy. From this time on, each avoids the other; when he enters her room of death, Ana María understands that her love for him was a hidden core and that his love for her is the same.


Antonio, Ana María’s rich, handsome, and charming husband. For a year, Antonio spies on Ana María from the wild black forest adjoining her father’s hacienda. After marriage, his young bride feels lost in his sumptuous, labyrinthine house; she resists both his home and the pleasure that Antonio arouses in her. Antonio allows her to...

(The entire section is 855 words.)