"The brothers were brought up to be men. The girls were brought up to be married. They knew how to do screen embroidery, sew by machine, weave bone lace, wash and iron, make artificial flowers and fancy candy, and write engagement announcements… my mother thought there were no better-reared daughters. 'They're perfect,' she was frequently heard to say. 'Any man will be happy with them because they've been raised to suffer.'"

This excerpt shows the severity of the lives women lead in the reserved Colombian culture of the town. The narrator describes the upbringing of Angela Vicario and her siblings. Women are not allowed to get jobs or follow their own dreams; their lives are bounded on all sides by tradition and the expectation to get married and have families. All of the chores they are taught to do-washing, making flowers-are household chores. A woman's worthiness as a wife was measured by her beauty in conjunction with her ability to gracefully run all aspects of a household. The idea that the woman in a marriage is expected to suffer is significant-no woman enters marriage expecting to be happiness unless she is fortunate enough to love whichever man decides to court her. In this Spanish culture, unlike Western culture, marriage is not based on love.