Places: The Violent Land

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: Terras do sem fin, 1942 (English translation, 1945)

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Social realism

Time of work: Late nineteenth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Sequeiro Grande

*Sequeiro Violent Land, TheGrande (see-KAY-roh GRAHN-day). Forest region of prime cacao-growing land in northeastern Brazil. In his foreword to the English translation of the novel, Jorge Amado describes his own boyhood in the area and states that his portrait of the land and its inhabitants is a true one. He also states that the story contains the very “roots” of his being and means more to him than any of his other books. In his novel, the Sequeiro Grande is sought by both the Horacio and Badaró families, whose plantations are located on opposite sides of the region’s still-unclaimed interior. The forest is likened to a lovely young virgin whose appeal far transcends that of mere money, which makes the narrative both a story about a love triangle and a chronicle of economic conflict. The novel’s conception of male sexual drive as the engine of economic expansion is mirrored in its treatments of love relationships, which are similarly envisaged as dramas of a man’s need to possess, control, and exploit the woman he desires.

Horacio plantation

Horacio plantation (oh-RAH-see-oh). Home of Colonel Horacio da Silveira and his wife, Ester. Important units of social organization on the Brazilian frontier, plantations are depicted in the novel as both outposts of civilization and feudal kingdoms reflecting their owners’ personalities. Although Colonel Horacio’s fields are worked by poorly paid laborers under the supervision of armed foremen, he is sufficiently responsive to the needs of his “retainers” to command their loyalty when conflict with the Badarós threatens.

While the colonel tames his land, his wife attempts to domesticate him by providing a sophisticated social life and imported cultural influences; if only partially successful in rounding off some of the colonel’s rough edges, her efforts prefigure what the narrative sees as the eventual triumph of civilizing influences.

Badaró plantation

Badaró plantation (bah-dah-ROH). Home of brothers Sinhô and Juca Badaró and their sister Don’Ana. Like Colonel Horacio, the Badaró brothers are lords of their feudal plantation, with Sinhô’s appreciation of European art and reluctance to use violence offering a more civilized alternative to Juca’s propensity to violence. Although the Badaró estate is destroyed in a final battle with Horacio’s forces, this is the final act of lawlessness in a narrative that concludes with the coming of law and order to the region.

*Ilhéus

*Ilhéus (ihl-YAY-ahs). Major city of southern Bahia. Ilhéus is another location of conflict between incoming civilization and frontier anarchy, a thriving commercial center which at the beginning of the novel is dominated by a corrupt political establishment that sanctions chicanery in the courts and assassinations in the streets. The city’s gradual evolution toward social order is symbolized by the pope’s appointment of its first bishop, and the subsequent festivities that celebrate this notable event as a major advance on the road of progress.

*Ferradas

*Ferradas (fay-RAH-das). Town founded as a service center for Colonel Horacio’s nearby plantation, and very much under his control. While Ilhéus develops into a dynamic and growing community, Ferradas remains a bandit’s den whose failure to transcend its origins as a frontier outpost symbolizes its unworthiness to benefit from progress.

*Tabocas

*Tabocas (tah-BOH-kahs). Town between Ilhéus and Ferradas that prospers despite Colonel Horacio’s proximity. Policed by an officer who manages to do his job properly while remaining on good terms with the colonel, Tabocas tolerates those partial to the Badaró clan, so long as they do not try for municipal office. As a consequence of this relatively enlightened attitude, the community is distinguished by great commercial prosperity, as well as the schools and churches that Ilhéus has previously established and Ferradas will never manage to create.

BibliographyChamberlain, Bobby J. Jorge Amado. Boston: Twayne, 1990. A study of aspects of Amado’s major novels. Places the author’s fiction in a biographical and bibliographic context, offers critical analysis, and lays the groundwork for a reevaluation of the author’s novelistic output. Discusses The Violent Land as the forerunner of the later novels. Chronology and annotated bibliography.Ellison, Fred P. Brazil’s New Novel: Four Northeastern Masters. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1954. Insightful study examining style, theme, and characterization in Amado’s early fiction. Includes a discussion of The Violent Land. One of the earliest studies in English of Amado.Lowe, Elizabeth. The City in Brazilian Literature. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1982. Characterizes Amado’s depiction of Salvador, Bahia, as “picturesque exoticism,” and his portrayal of the urban poor as “carnivalization.”Pescatello, Ann, ed. “The Braziliera: Images and Realities in Writings of Machado de Assis and Jorge Amado.” In Female and Male in Latin America: Essays. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1973. Compares Amado’s female characters (including those in The Violent Land) with those of Machado de Assis. Detects a preoccupation with class and race in both writers’ female characterizations.Schade, George D. “Three Contemporary Brazilian Novels: Some Comparisons and Contrasts.” Hispania 39, no. 4 (December, 1956): 391-396. Compares the structure, theme, and characterization in The Violent Land with Graciliano Ramos’ Anguish (1936) and Rachel de Queiroz’s The Three Marias (1939).
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