So Far From God Characters
by Ana Castillo

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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

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

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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...

(The entire section is 2,011 words.)