49 pages 1 hour read

Isabel Allende


Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2005

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Part 1Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1: “California, 1790-1810”

Part 1, Pages 1-25 Summary

Before the main narrative begins, there is a brief introductory passage resembling a prologue. The third-person narrator (currently unnamed but later identified as the protagonist’s friend Isabel de Romeu) opens with the remark, “This is the story of Diego de la Vega and of how he became the legendary Zorro” (1). They explain that their storytelling is a project: They want to provide a true chronicle of Zorro to counter any false narratives or slander that may spread from Zorro’s enemies (of which there are naturally many). Additionally, asserts the narrator, Zorro has sacrificed much, and his story deserves an audience.

Before the narrator can talk about Diego, however, they must chronicle how Diego’s parents met. This brings the narrative to just before the 19th century. When the story proper begins in 1790, the Franciscan friar Padre Mendoza is the supervisor of the San Gabriel mission. Mendoza is a resolute, just, and practical man who works hard to make his mission “a model of prosperity and justice” (11), believing himself a kind of civilizer and educator to what he sees as the innocent and even childlike Indigenous people in his mission.