Andrés Hurtado (ahn-DREHS ewr-TAH-doh), a medical doctor. A permanent feeling of loneliness that became more acute after his mother’s death has made Andrés withdrawn, melancholy, and sad in appearance. He defines himself as a partisan of the Republican Party and as an upholder of the cause of the poor, but his true commitment is to literature and things intellectual. His main concern is to find a rational explanation for the formation of the world and, at the same time, for life and humankind. At the beginning of the novel, Andrés is attending his first medical classes at the Institute of San Isidro in Madrid. Despite the fact that Andrés does not show a profound calling for medicine, he continues his studies, completing his internship in the hospitals of Madrid, where he witnesses all forms of abuse and misery. Finally, he is graduated. After two disappointing and weakening experiences, one as a rural doctor and the other in a public hospital in Madrid, he weds an old friend, Lulú, and begins a new job as translator of technical papers for a journal. Later, other personal experiences lead him to the extreme decision to commit suicide.
Lulú (lew-LEW), Andrés Hurtado’s wife. Lulú is unattractive and has a caustic disposition, but she is intelligent, noble, and progressive in her thinking. Julio Aracil, Andrés’ friend, introduces him to Lulú. From the very first moment, she falls in love with Andrés, but they do not talk about marriage until several years have passed. They are finally married and, after a period of peace and contentment, she becomes pregnant, changing both her mood and the family stability. Her child is stillborn, and, three days after delivering it, she dies of internal injuries.
Dr. Iturrioz (ee-tew-rree-OHS), Andrés’ uncle and mentor. Iturrioz is a medical doctor with a pragmatic attitude toward life. Several times, Iturrioz helps Andrés to succeed, approving his exams and obtaining professional positions. He is one of the few people to whom Andrés can talk about various far-reaching topics, in particular, his personal observations on people and everyday life. They discuss not only the meaning of life but also Andrés’ personal preoccupations concerning his future.
Montaner (mohn-tahn-EHR), one of Andrés’ classmates. Montaner is lazy and quiet. He belongs to the monarchist party, and he supports the aristocratic and wealthy classes. At the beginning, he is out of step with Andrés, but, after concluding their first courses together, they become friends.
Julio Aracil (HEW-lee-oh ahr-ah-SEEL), one of Andrés’ old friends and now his classmate at the university. Aracil is opinionated, selfish, and incapable of doing anything for others. Because his family has no means to support him, he has to support himself by gambling. His interest in pleasure and luxuries, even false and cheap ones, results in a constant need for money. Aracil seems finally to succeed in life because he is able to do whatever is necessary to obtain what he wants.
In The Tree of Knowledge , there is actually only one character who is the axis of the book. All others revolve around Andres. Dr. Iturrioz and Lulu are two channels through which Andres finds a mentor, someone capable of understanding and directing him. Although Andres does not always follow the advice of his...
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