Summary and Analysis Chapter 16



School begins and Antonio feels older than his classmates. His thoughts cluster around the opposing concepts of good and evil; particularly, why God allows evil to go unpunished. He begins to pray more regularly to the Virgin, convinced that his first communion will bring understanding and answers.

Sitting under the juniper tree where Narciso was killed, dreaming of meeting the Virgin, Antonio encounters Tenorio and immediately forms a cross with a thumb and forefinger. Tenorio curses him and threatens to kill Ultima. Antonio rushes to warn Ultima, who wants to know if Tenorio touched him. She says that Tenorio returned to the juniper tree because his conscience knew that he had committed a mortal sin and it was seeking absolution. She assures Antonio that she will not be ambushed like Narciso.


The pressures from his family somewhat lightened, Antonio continues to brood; he cannot understand why a good man like Narciso lost his life trying to do good, and why an evil murderer like Tenorio goes free and unpunished. Antonio begins to lose faith in God and begins to pray to la Virgen de Guadalupe, hoping that she will provide a sign that will help him understand. Andrew's absence exacerbates this gloominess.

His encounter with Tenorio brings the struggle between good and evil back to the center of his life. He fears Tenorio but finds some solace in Ultima's courage. Antonio is beholden to Ultima for taking care of him during his illness and fears that Tenorio will harm her. Tenorio is brooding over the deteriorating health of one of his two remaining daughters and growing more and more resentful of Ultima. Anaya is setting up the climax of the struggle between Tenorio and Ultima.

The spring tempests, with their winds and moody skies, set a backdrop that infuses the moodiness of the boy with apocalyptic sentiments. It seems as though it is a time when the world could possibly end. As Antonio grapples with morose philosophical questions, Tenorio, the embodiment of evil, threatens Ultima and brings Antonio back to the world of lived experiences. He must now face the absolute horror of Tenorio's evil.


maldito wicked, cursed.

desgraciado despicable.

entremetido a meddler, or intruder.

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