(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Son of Man is a novel of “man crucified by his fellow man.” The plot includes nine stories, or chapters, not in chronological order, each appearing at first to be independent of the others. The novel jumps from one time to another to introduce an important event or to present a character, acquiring its unity from the repetition of certain symbols and events, and from the voice of Miguel Vera, who is the protagonist-narrator in five of the stories (the odd-numbered chapters), and the omniscient spectator-narrator in the other four (the even-numbered chapters).

Miguel Vera begins by remembering his childhood in Itapé. Vera recalls the figure of Macario Francia, a blind old man, and the stories that he would tell the youngsters, particularly Gaspar Mora’s story, in which Mora, Macario’s nephew, leaves the village for the nearby hills after contracting leprosy. When Mora dies, an image of Christ that Mora carved is found in his house. The peasants take the image to the town, where it presides over their lives, becoming a symbol.

In the following chapter, a little town near Itapé, called Sapukai, has suffered an enormous explosion during an insurrection. In the blast, thousands of people have died. One day, Alexis Dubrovsky, a Russian doctor, suddenly appears in the Sapukai railway station. He dedicates his life to curing the peasants and takes care of a colony of lepers (a common disease in Paraguay at that time).


(The entire section is 551 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Bach, Caleb. “Augusto Roa Bastos: Outwitting Reality.” Americas 48 (November/December, 1996): 44-49. Bach profiles Roa Bastos’s life and career and discusses the theme of power in his novels.

Flores, Angel, ed. “Augusto Roa Bastos.” In Spanish American Authors: The Twentieth Century. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1992. Profiles Roa Bastos and includes an extensive bibliography of works by and about the author.

Foster, David W. Augusto Roa Bastos. Boston: Twayne, 1978. Foster provides a critical and interpretive study of Roa Bastos, with a close reading of his major works, a solid bibliography, and complete notes and references.

Marcos, Juan Manuel. “Augusto Roa Bastos.” In Latin American Writers, edited by Carlos A. Solé and Maria I. Abreau. Vol 3. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1989. An essay on the life and career of Roa Bastos. Includes analysis of his works and a bibliography.

Weldt-Basson, Helene C. “Augusto Roa Bastos’s Trilogy as Postmodern Practice.” Studies in Twentieth Century Literature 22 (Summer, 1998): 335-355. A discussion of the author’s trilogy on the “monotheism of power.”

Weldt-Basson, Helene C. “A Genetic Approach to Augusto Roa Bastos’s Hijo de hombre.” Confluencia 11 (Fall, 1995): 134-147. A discussion of Son of Man.