So Far From God

by Ana Castillo

Start Free Trial

So Far from God Characters

The main characters in So Far from God are Sofia, Esperanza, Caridad, Fe, and La Loca.

  • Sofia is the mother of Esperanza, Caridad, Fe, and La Loca. She eventually becomes the unofficial mayor of Tome.
  • Esperanza, Sofia's eldest daughter, is an activist and journalist who dies covering the Persian Gulf War.
  • Caridad survives a vicious attack and gains spiritual powers. She falls in love with a woman named Esmeralda, and the two die together.
  • Fe survives a nervous breakdown only to die from exposure to toxic chemicals at work.
  • La Loca, the youngest daughter, becomes a local saint after her childhood resurrection; she later dies from AIDS.

The Characters

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 566

Esperanza, the least developed of the main characters, is presented in the role of surrogate caregiver and stabilizing influence in the family. Representative of many modern women who recognize the difficulty of maintaining both a career and a meaningful relationship, Esperanza is a successful journalist struggling to reconcile her personal needs, her political beliefs, and her professional responsibilities. The most politically active of the daughters, Esperanza functions as the novel’s social conscience. Her death while covering the Persian Gulf War transforms her into a heroic symbol of outrage at death without dignity. Esperanza is both a martyr to and a symbol of the consequences of the United States’ misguided foreign policies.

Presented as the passive victim of an unfaithful husband, Caridad resorts to nightly drinking and anonymous sex to deal with her failed marriage. Her mutilation, restoration, and exile are all simply preludes to her ultimate discovery that “falling in love . . . now that was something else altogether.” Caridad comes to embody the redeeming power of love as she voluntarily sacrifices herself for another. The principal thematic elements—the blurring of the lines between the mythic and the everyday, and the transforming power of heroism and love—come together in the final, simultaneously selfless and self-affirming act of Caridad and Esmeralda.

Initially the least sympathetic of the four daughters, Fe is also the most unlikely heroine. Superficial, distant, and immature, Fe is anxious to get out of Tome and to get away from her family. She is eager to disassociate herself from Chicano culture and to align herself with the dominant culture’s values and beliefs. The hardships that Fe must face function as rites of passage that help her evolve beyond this psychological immaturity to the courage of self-responsibility and assurance. In the process of facing her own mortality, Fe develops into an assertive, independent, compassionate woman. Like Esperanza, Fe is also a martyr and a symbol; her death is a warning against the effects of racist environmental policies.

Woven into the narrative is the story of the miraculous life of Sofia’s youngest daughter. Perceived by others as retarded, mentally ill, or soulless, La Loca is the spiritual center of her family and later the patron saint of her community. Defined by the tragedies and triumphs of her family, La Loca lives without fear, fully aware of the choices she has made in life. From La Loca, the reader sees that life is to be lived with courage and wisdom, with dignity and joy, with an appreciation of its mystery.

Throughout the novel, Sofia endures and triumphs over tragedy. Sofia’s heroism is seen in her repeated efforts to understand; rather than fall victim to despair, she reaches into the depths of her spirit and her faith to prevail over the obstacles that confront her. Sofia represents the heroic qualities of hispano women—strong, courageous, resilient women who not only survive adversity but who also prevail, endure, and pass their strength and determination on to their children and communities.

Domingo, of the Clark Gable mustache and piercing eyes, is at once the love of Sofia’s life and the source of her greatest heartache. Initially the family, the community, and the reader believe that Domingo abandoned Sofia and the girls. Only later, when, after his unexplained return, he gambles away the land and the house, does Sofia “remember” that she had thrown him out.

Characters Discussed

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 523


Sofía (soh-FEE -ah), the protagonist, the mother of four daughters. She was born into an old and respected family in New Mexico that was heir to Spanish land grants. Sofía elopes at...

(This entire section contains 523 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

the age of eighteen with Domingo, a handsome young gambler. She gives birth to four daughters at three-year intervals, is abandoned by her husband (after she asks him to leave), and supports her family in her rural home by butchering pigs and lambs to sell at her “Carne Buena Carniceria” (Good Meat Butcher Shop). At the age of fifty-three, she becomes the titular mayor of Tome by developing and orga-nizing sheep and cattle cooperatives to improve the economic condition of the town’s people. She survives all four of her daughters.


Esperanza (ehs-pehr-AHN-sah), Sofía’s eldest daughter. A radical Chicana activist during her college years, she earns a master’s degree in communications and becomes a TV news journalist.


Caridad (kah-ree-DAHD), Sofía’s second daughter. The beauty of the family, she marries her high school sweetheart, but his infidelity moves her to leave him shortly after the wedding. She drowns her sorrow in alcohol and men until her nightly bar adventures are cut short by a savage attack that leaves her mutilated and near death. After a miraculous recovery, she becomes clairvoyant and an apprentice curandera (medicine woman) to Doña Felicia, an older healer woman.


Fe (fay), Sofía’s third daughter, a methodical, hardworking and reliable bank clerk. Her ambition is to marry her boyfriend and buy a house. When he jilts her shortly before their planned wedding, she suffers a nervous breakdown that results in her emitting a continuous scream that does not stop for a year. Fe subsequently marries her cousin and becomes a well-paid factory employee working with deadly chemicals. She dies from exposure to chemicals.

La Loca

La Loca (LOH-kah), Sofía’s fourth daughter; her name means “the crazy one.” At the age of three, La Loca appears to die from convulsions, but at her burial she apparently “resurrects.” Repelled by people and human touch, she lives surrounded by animals. She possesses extraordinary (and sometimes miraculous) powers, including foresight.


Domingo (doh-MEEN-goh), Sofía’s errant husband. A charming, handsome man and a confirmed gambler, he leaves his wife and daughters and later returns to them after many years of absence. He gambles away the family’s remaining land and their house. Sofía divorces him.

Doña Felicia

Doña Felicia (DOHN-yah feh-LEE-see-ah), Caridad’s ancient, eccentric landlady and mentor. She is instrumental in helping Caridad learn to recognize, accept, and use her healing gifts.

Francisco el Penitente

Francisco el Penitente (frahn-SEES-koh ehl peh-nee-TEHN-teh), Doña Felicia’s godson. His obsession with Caridad leads to her death. He later takes his own life.


Ruben (REW-behn), Esperanza’s activist boyfriend. Afraid to commit to a relationship with her, only after her death does he finally admit that he loved her.


Esmeralda (ehs-meh-RAHL-dah), a mysterious woman who becomes romantically involved with Caridad. Their relationship leads to Esmeralda’s abduction and rape by the obsessed Francisco.


Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 922

Caridad Caridad is the third and most beautiful of Sofi's daughters. She is vibrant, sensual, and sexually active. She loved one man, and when he broke her heart by cheating on her after their wedding, Caridad turned her back on love. For several years, she gets involved with dangerous men, heavy drinking, and lots of sex. She has three abortions, all performed by her sister, La Loca, and is severely beaten by a supernatural beast. Following a year in a coma, the same year Fe is screaming, Caridad discovers a new side to herself in her ‘‘holy recovery.’’ She realizes that she has the potential to be a spiritual healer and channeler. She begins to train with Dona Felicia, and her year of wilderness solitude only enhances her reputation. Unfortunately, Caridad becomes the object of a stalker's attentions. Her stalker, Francisco el Penitente, is mentally unbalanced and believes that the only way to get Caridad out of his mind is to kill her. Caridad, rather than be murdered, jumps to her death off an ancient Pueblo Indian cliff dwelling. Her death represents the cultural forces working on women to suppress their sexuality and remove their control over their own lives.

Domingo Domingo is Sofi's husband and the father of her children. He is also a gambler. He abandons the family soon after La Loca's birth because he cannot stay in one place. He returns immediately after Caridad's ‘‘holy restoration’’—a twenty-year absence. Sofi allows him to stay and they are happy for a while. He builds Caridad a house with his winnings from the Illinois lottery and continues to gamble without Sofi's knowledge. When he loses Sofi's house and four-acre lot to a Federal judge in an illegal card game, Sofi finally divorces her husband. He moves into the house that he built for Caridad and leaves the narrative.

Dona Felicia Dona Felicia, much like Sofi, is an older woman whose life has been anything but peaceful. Married, widowed, and abandoned several times, Felicia has buried all of her children and lost any faith in organized religion. She is a spiritual healer who trains Caridad as a channeler. She feels responsible for Caridad's death since it is Felicia's godson who stalks her. She tries to save La Loca, but her skills are useless against AIDS. Dona Felicia tries to help Sofi cope with the loss of all of her children.

Esperanza Esperanza is the eldest of Sofi's daughters. She is the only one to complete college and to ‘‘discover" her ethnicity. Esperanza was a bit of an activist in college, marching and picketing for the cause of Hispanic Brotherhood. She became a journalist, working at a local television station before accepting a national job based in Washington. She accepted the job only after both of her sisters recovered and she felt no longer needed. Esperanza went to cover the 1991 Persian Gulf War and was killed in action. The hypocrisy surrounding the U.S. military and American treatment of Hispanic women becomes obvious in the way the authorities treated her death and their patronizing attitude toward her parents.

Fe Fe is Sofi's second daughter, often considered the "normal" one. She worked at the local bank since graduating from high school and was engaged to a nice, normal guy, Tom Torres. Fe is embarrassed by her family and tries very hard not to invite her friends over or to involve her family in her professional life. When Tom breaks off their engagement, Fe goes crazy, screaming and beating her head against the walls of the family home for one year. After her recovery, which is just as sudden as her screaming fit, she returns to work, not realizing the damage her screaming has done to her voice. She marries her cousin and goes to work in a parts-cleaning plant for more money. She volunteers to do hazardous work duty, not knowing that the chemicals were hazardous, and eventually dies from cancer. Like Esperanza's death, Fe's death exposes the dangers and terrible working conditions faced by Hispanic women, as well as the callous attitudes white corporate America holds towards its workforce.

La Loca Although readers never learn her real name, Sofi's fourth daughter, La Loca, is aptly named. La Loca gets her name from events surrounding her first death and funeral when she was three years old. After an epileptic fit leaves her comatose, La Loca's family believes that she is dead and plans to bury her. She awakes just as the priest is muttering over her casket. The child "flies" to the roof of the church and tells everyone that she has been to Hell and has come back. La Loca changes greatly: she can no longer stand people touching her, nor can she handle the smell of any people other than her family; she talks to animals, ghosts, and other spirits. La Loca is considered a saint at first, but her odd behavior soon makes the townspeople drop the ‘‘Santa'' part and refer to her as La Loca, the Crazy One. Like her sisters, La Loca does not live a long and happy life. Soon after Fe's and Caridad's deaths, she is diagnosed with AIDS. How she contracted the disease is never revealed, but since she never had a boyfriend or a blood transfusion, her illness becomes as supernatural as her life. La Loca's death inspired her mother to form Mothers of Martyrs and Saints (M.O.M.A.S.), an organization dedicated to keeping alive the memories of people killed when young.




Critical Essays