Throughout this book, all translations are by Ileana Rodriguez and Robert Carr, except where
a work appears as a translation in the Bibliography.
[As a Virginia state legislator] Jefferson sought and secured abolition of the laws of pri-
mogeniture and entail in Virginia in order to discourage concentration of property in the
hands of a few great landowners. He believed that property was among the natural rights
to which man was born and that it meant the right to a decent means of subsistence. After
observing the economic conditions in France ... , he wrote: "Whenever there is in any
country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property
have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The
is given as a common
stock for man to labour and live on.
for the encouragement of industry we allow it to
be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be provided to those excluded
from the appropriation.
we do not the fundamental right to labour the earth returns to
the unemployed." (Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., vol. 10, p. 127).
An earlier version of this chapter appeared in the Latin American Studies Center Series, NO.4
(University of Maryland at College Park) 1992.
In the Latin American literary tradition of nineteenth-century Modernism, a "woman of
porcelain" is a lily-white Victorian woman, and a black woman is a "woman of ebony." I
have chosen "earthen woman" (i.e., "mujer de la tierra") to describe mestizas.
In his article "Populism and Nationalism: Some Reservations," (in Rodriguez & Zimmer-
man, eds.), John Beverley argues that Gallegos offers the mestizo three routes: in the
marriage between Santos and Marisela, the idea that he can be part of the new capitalist
society; for the peons, that they can aspire to intermediate positions; and for the masses,
labor relations based on just labor contracts. I entirely agree with this reading.