“All the Years of Her Life” and “The Gentlemen of Rio en Medio”

The thing about synonyms is that even though they though they might seem like they are the same thing, if put in a different context they can mean something completely different. It’s interesting how two characters with very similar traits, goals and morals can be so different when placed in different stories, like when you switch a word for its supposed “synonym”.

Don Anselmo and Mrs. Higgins are two very similar people. Both are traditional, respected, a little on the old-fashioned side and good at being seen as proud and confident. But it’s their greatest linking factor, their love for their families and communities, which divides them.

Don Anselmo is a proud, traditional and very well respected man who has kept up the tradition of planting a tree for every child in the village to the point where a “gnarled but beautiful” orchard had become a part of his property. And when he is confronted with the request to ask the children to refrain from playing in the orchard, he explains that it is not his choice nor his place, as “the trees do not belong to him”. To him, nothing is more important than respecting the honor of his family. And to him, every child in that village whether they’re related to him or not, is his family.

On the other hand, Mrs. Higgins has too close of an association with her son to the point where she sees his problems as hers. She has a proud and confident facade that hides a spirit broken by reasons that are out of her control. She appears to blame herself for her son’s inability to keep a steady job and lead a good life. Like Don Anselmo she closely identifies herself with her family that in her case seems to have an ill effect on her lifestyle. “You’ve disgraced me again and again,” she told Albert as they left the pharmacy. She feels as if her son’s shenanigans are her fault and this causes her spirit to crumble. This isn’t the first time that her family has failed her, which in her eyes translates into failing as a mother.

So as you can see, both characters have almost identical personality building blocks. On one hand, Don Anselmo has used his love and respect for family to create a bond between him and his village that lead to a tight knit community. And on the other, Mrs. Higgins chose to use her tolerance and pride to create a poisonous relationship between her son’s lifestyle and her happiness.