The small, unrelated acts of violence occur within a month in a Mexican village to which the boy descends, down mountain paths, his father's body strapped to his back. He had killed him when drunk. The President, ill and weary of such sad, recurrent duties, must put him in jail. Each chapter takes its focus from one of the characters-- from Mario, the Indian who is the doctor's aide but who calls the drunkard-curer for his sick father; from the President who finally dies; from the teacher, the Maestro, almost resigned to the hopelessness of life in this backwater; from the arrogant Juan Lopez Oso, the president's successor; etc. Wilson, unlike many first novelists, excludes himself from the story and whatever he saw here is found wholly through the encounters and attitudes of his characters-- the distrust between Mexicans and Indians, the intricacies of power and justice, the sere subsistence level in a country trying to shed the skins of poverty, illiteracy and a manana resignation. Young Mr. Wilson is a gifted writer able to project in a clear, almost austere prose, the sense of slow time in an anonymous village just such as this -- lying behind ""the mud-walled stores, the Cabildo, the Church, all bathed in pale yellow light from the west and crossed with thick shafts of shadow."" With more hope than conviction, one looks to an audience.