She insisted that they go together right away because breakfast was already made. “It was a strange insistence,” Cristo Bedoya told me. “So much so that sometimes I’ve thought that Margot already knew that they were going to kill him and wanted to hide him in your house.”

When the narrator’s sister Margot insists that Santiago go to her house, Cristo Bedoya wonders if Margot knew that the Vicario brothers were after him and was trying to protect him. If this was the case, readers may wonder why Margot would not warn Santiago directly but instead try to manipulate him. For many of the characters in this novel, lying comes much more naturally than telling the truth, even when lying goes against their best interests.

“I obeyed them blindly,” she told me, “because they made me believe that they were experts in men’s tricks.” They assured her that almost all women lost their virginity in childhood accidents. They insisted that even the most difficult of husbands resigned themselves to anything as long as nobody knew about it . . . And they taught her old wives’ tricks to feign her lost possession, so that on her first morning as a newlywed she could display open under the sun in the courtyard of her house the linen sheet with the stain of honor.

When Angela’s parents insist that she marry Bayardo San Roman, she fears that he will find out she is not a virgin on their wedding night. When she expresses this fear to some of her older friends, they tell her that every woman deals with this issue and they explain how she can trick Bayardo San Roman into believing that she remained a virgin until her wedding night. The fact that how to deceive one’s husband on the first night of marriage exists as such common knowledge among these women shows how deceit runs rampant in their relationships. At the same time, such knowledge reveals that these women have figured out a way to work around the unfair limits placed upon them by their culture.

“I didn’t do any of what they told me,” she said, “because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was all something dirty that shouldn’t be done to anybody, much less to the poor man who had the bad luck to marry me.”

Even though Angela’s friends tell her how to trick Bayardo San Roman into believing she was a virgin, she decides on their wedding night that she could not lie to her new husband. The narrator explains that Angela makes such a choice due to the “pure decency” that her mother instilled in her. However, Angela had been lying by omission to Bayardo San Roman for their entire engagement, and the narrator believes she is lying about the identity of who took her virginity. Even someone as purely decent as Angela remains capable of a deceit that eventually leads to an innocent man’s death.