Character Analysis Nuflo


Although Nuflo's role is minor within the complete structure of Green Mansions, he is a welcome comic relief, at times, to the high tension and melodramatic moments. Nuflo comes closer to having a realistic characterization than do Rima and Abel. There is no allegorical mode to any of Nuflo's actions even if he perhaps is a faint symbol of civilization in contact with nature. Nuflo, in part, is the opposite of Abel because the old man is from a lower social class with none of the cultural and political advantages of the hero. Nuflo has also been a criminal in his youth, and he must now by necessity live outside the jurisdiction of the law where he could be apprehended. He is likewise bound to superstitious beliefs and is literally afraid of Rima because of her supposed powers to intercede with heaven about his fate after death. Nuflo has few ideals, but his knowledge and reactions are invariably practical, with his own survival the principal motive. For example, he is kind to the dogs on whom he relies for hunting, but he can kill one of the animals without any sorrowful outbursts or remorse, as Abel learns on the return trip from Riolama. The same behavior pattern marks Nuflo's sly method of eating meat without Rima's apparent knowledge.

Abel, frequently exasperated by Nuflo's attitude and evasiveness, nevertheless finds a companion with whom he can communicate on easy terms. Nuflo's murder elicits Abel's sincere feelings toward the old man; and Abel's words at the burial scene, simple and noncommittal, indicate the youth's final judgment on Rima's guardian: "'Sleep well, old man,' said I." Hudson's characterization of Nuflo is very possibly drawn from gaucho types whom he knew in his early years in Argentina; characters such as Nuflo are familiar actors in the gaucho literature of South America.

Nuflo's contribution to Green Mansions is valuable for several reasons: He solves the mystery about Rima's birth and background; he lightens the mood by providing variety; he contrasts with the hero; his actions are often characterized by humor and even comic elements; his knowledge of nature guides the group to Riolama; and he shows himself to be the stronger of the two when Abel falters during the return to the "green mansions." One should also remember Hudson's use of language and the difference between Abel's and Nuflo's patterns of speech. Abel speaks a cultured and flowery language, the result of his background and training in Caracas; Nuflo uses a rougher and more common idiom. Hudson is also skillful in attempting the rendition of Spanish linguistic patterns into English sentences as he allows Nuflo to talk. Nuflo is representative of the humble South American of Spanish origin.

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