49 pages 1 hour read

Isabel Allende


Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2005

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Virtue and Justice

Virtue, especially the virtue of justice, is the central theme of Allende’s Zorro. Diego, the novel’s protagonist, develops a strong sense of justice from an early age, and as a young man his defining quality is his “disproportionate love of justice” (93). The narrative explores the theme of justice through Diego’s upbringing, his life experiences, and his transformation into Zorro. Specifically, Diego becomes obsessed with fighting for justice and resisting institutions and individuals—such as Moncada—that represent injustice and oppression.

The narrative presents justice through the eyes of the protagonist. As he grows up, Diego learns to value justice from figures who exemplify different types of justice, including his parents, grandmother, and members of his community. The five basic virtues of okahué, taught to Diego by his grandmother, guide him throughout his life. At the same time, Diego witnesses many injustices, from childhood bullying to the systematic mistreatment of the Indigenous people by the Spanish settlers of California. From the beginning, Diego does everything in his power to fight against these injustices, even when doing so puts him in danger, as when he captures a live bear to protect his childhood friend García from the bully Carlos.