Briceno is one of the young men in the central group of friends in the story. He speaks his mind, such as when he announces that he thinks the Gimp will kill Justo in the fight. When he sees Justo, however, he expresses nothing but confidence in Justo’s ability to win the fight.
Chalupas is the Gimp’s most vocal supporter on the night of the fight. He belittles Justo and has an air of hostility about him.
Chunga is one of the Gimp’s supporters. He is the one responsible for checking Justo’s weapon to be sure it is acceptable.
The Gimp is Justo’s opponent in the fight. Despite being crippled, the Gimp is strong and skilled at fighting. The Gimp is confident in his ability and, according to Moses, was set on challenging Justo to a fight. The Gimp is like the other men in the story in that he participates in talking tough before the fight. Despite his talk, he does not actually want to kill Justo, as seen when he pleads first with Julian then with Leonidas to get Justo to give up the fight.
The Gimp is described as being very ugly. He is quite tall, has a dark, pimply complexion, and is beardless. He has small eyes, long cheekbones, and thick lips. His left foot is lame, and there are rumors that he has a huge scar on his left foot from a pig bite, although nobody has ever seen the scar.
At some point in the past, the Gimp and Julian were friends, although no explanation for the estrangement is offered. Still, toward the end of the fight, when the Gimp fears he will have to kill Justo to stop him, he pleads with Julian to make Justo surrender. The Gimp seems to understand that Julian values friendship, so he calls on him, in the name of past friendship, to save Justo for the sake of present friendship.
Julian is the story’s narrator. He is levelheaded, loyal, and trustworthy. He is the man on Justo’s side who is given the responsibility of looking over the Gimp’s weapon to be sure it is acceptable. Julian is married and has a son, but little is said about his relationship with his family. Julian is not afraid of the Gimp or his friends. When Chalupas speaks to him in a threatening way, Julian responds with insults.
Justo is a skilled fighter who is challenged by the Gimp. Justo is Julian’s friend, and he relies on the support of the other young men in his social group when he goes to fight the Gimp. Julian describes Justo as looking “like a kid, a woman: from [a certain] angle, his features were delicate, soft.” From another angle, however, Justo’s large purple scar across his face is visible. It extends from the corner of his mouth to his forehead.
Leon is one of Julian’s friends; he is also a supporter of Justo in the fight. His compassion is seen at the end of the story when he tries to comfort Leonidas by telling him that he has never seen anyone as brave as his son.
Leonidas is an older man who is friends with the central group of young men (Julian and his friends) in the story. Leonidas lives alone just outside of town in a small hut. He shows up on the night of the fight, which seems to surprise everyone. He is not afraid of the Gimp or his friends and chastises them for questioning his right to be there. Just before the fight, he whispers advice to Justo to help him with the fight. At the end of the story, the reader learns that Leonidas is Justo’s father.
Moses owns the River Bar, where Julian and his friends sometimes go to have a beer. When Moses hears about the fight, he offers to help even though he feels that Justo’s chances of winning the fight are not good.
Thomas E. Barden – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 14, Mario Vargas Llosa – Published by Gale Cengage Learning.