Summary and Analysis
Olivares's brothers claim that Isabella is too young to be the mother of Inez. Vanity prohibits Isabella from admitting her true age. Vaillant and Latour try to persuade her to admit her age, to ensure that she and her daughter receive their inheritance. They are also concerned because Olivares died before adding the gift for the cathedral in his will.
Claiming she would rather be young and poor than old and rich, Isabella will only admit to being forty-two. Latour reminds her that she will be forced to live on charity from Olivares's greedy brothers, and the priests have become accustomed to being entertained by Isabella. She asks how young she could claim to be and still be considered the mother of Inez. Her lawyer, Boyd O'Reilly, tells her fifty-two. She consents to admit to that age in court. Vaillant is upset by her vanity, but Latour believes it is cruel to force her to admit her age.
After Dona Isabella and Inez defeat the challenge to Don Olivares's will, an impromptu party is held at the Olivares house. The priests pay a call on Isabella, unaware that a party has begun. They are surprised to hear music and laughter. Isabella tells the priests that she won't forgive them for making her lie about her age. The priests bow to laughter and applause.
The two priests differ in their approach to Dona Isabella. Vaillant is vehement; Latour is gently persuasive. Isabella's reluctance to divulge her age can be seen as the reluctant passing of one generation@ — the generation of the elder Olivares, the Carsons, Don Chavez@ — to the next generation, in which every New Mexican will be considered an American.