The Winners Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: Los premios, 1960 (English translation, 1965)

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Satire

Time of work: The 1950’s

Locale: Buenos Aires and aboard a cruise ship

Characters DiscussedGabriel Medrano

Gabriel Winners, TheMedrano (meh-DRAH-noh), a dentist and a womanizer who is dissatisfied with life on board the Malcolm. He allies himself with a group that does not accept the official explanation of why the passengers have not been given complete access to the ship, that of an outbreak of typhus among the crew’s members. When Claudia Lewbaum’s son Jorge becomes ill, Medrano decides that the unsatisfactory response of the ship’s authorities requires forcible entry into the restricted areas of the ship. He storms the radio room and forces the operator to send a message to Buenos Aires about Jorge’s condition. The radio operator then kills Medrano. The passengers are asked to sign a statement that Medrano died of typhus instead of gunshot wounds.

Carlos López

Carlos López, a leftist high school Spanish teacher who refuses to believe that the passengers are being denied access to the entire ship because of an outbreak of typhus. He threatens one of the ship’s officers that he will storm the other side of the ship if the restrictions on passenger movement are not lifted. He agrees with Medrano about the need to send a radio message because of Jorge’s illness. He is struck unconscious in the assault on the sailors’ quarters and is returned to his room. He refuses to sign the official statement about the cause of Medrano’s death.


Persio (pehr-SEE-oh), a short, bald, eccentric proofreader and aspiring writer. He is a dreamer who lives in a world of philosophical speculation. He is so engrossed in his own thoughts that he does not involve himself in the controversy among the passengers about their treatment on the ship.

Raúl Costa

Raúl Costa (rrah-EWL KOHS-tah), a homosexual architect who tries to seduce Felipe Trejo. During his secret exploration of the other side of the ship, he steals three guns and ammunition from the sailors’ quarters and then divides it among Medrano, López, and himself. He helps Medrano and López storm the other side of the ship and, after shots are fired, finds Medrano dead in the radio room. Like López, he refuses to sign the official statement about the cause of Medrano’s death.

Paula Lavalle

Paula Lavalle (lah-VAH-yeh), an attractive redhead who writes poems and stories. Although she is Costa’s close friend and traveling companion, she is courted by López. She also denies the official version of events on the ship.

Claudia Lewbaum

Claudia Lewbaum, the divorced mother of Jorge. Her son’s high fever precipitates the assault on the other side of the ship. Her budding friendship with Medrano ends abruptly with his death.

Felipe Trejo

Felipe Trejo (feh-LEE-peh TREH-hoh), a high school student learning to deal with his sexual feelings. His fantasies of sexual conquest remain unfulfilled because there are no young ladies his age on board. Although he is contemptuous of homosexuality, it intrigues him. He rejects Costa’s advances, only to be raped by a sailor, an incident he represses by fabricating a tale in which he seduced an insatiable Paula.

Dr. Restelli

Dr. Restelli (rreh-STEH-yee), a conservative colleague of López who teaches Argentine history. He speaks up for the passengers who accept the restrictions imposed by the ship’s authorities. He organizes a passenger talent show to lift everyone’s spirits and take their minds off the alleged outbreak of typhus among the ship’s staff. He accuses those who challenge the authorities of trying to ruin the cruise for the others.

Don Galo Porriño

Don Galo Porriño (GAH-loh poh-RREEN-yoh), a successful Galician businessman confined to a wheelchair. He speaks in defense of the authorities and considers those who are unwilling to submit to the crew’s demands to be guilty of insubordination and anarchy.

BibliographyAlazraki, Jaime, and Ivar Ivask, eds. The Final Island: The Fiction of Julio Cortázar. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978. Perhaps the finest collection of criticism on Cortázar, a representative sampling of his best critics covering all the important aspects of his fictional output.Boldy, Steven. The Novels of Julio Cortázar. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1980. The introduction provides a helpful biographical sketch linked to the major developments in Cortázar’s writing. Boldy concentrates on four Cortázar novels: The Winners, Hopscotch, 62: A Model Kit, and A Manual for Manuel. Includes notes, bibliography, and index.Guibert, Rita. Seven Voices: Seven Latin American Writers Talk to Rita Guibert. New York: Knopf, 1973. Includes an important interview with Cortázar, who discusses both his politics (his strenuous objection to U.S. interference in Latin America) and many of his fictional works.Harss, Luis, and Barbara Dohmann. Into the Mainstream: Conversations with Latin-American Writers. New York: Harper and Row, 1967. Includes an English translation of an important interview in Spanish.Hernandez del Castillo, Ana. Keats, Poe, and the Shaping of Cortázar’s Mythopoesis. Amsterdam: J. Benjamin, 1981. This is a part of the Purdue University Monographs in Romance Languages, volume 8. Cortázar praised this study for its rigor and insight.Peavler, Terry L. Julio Cortázar. Boston: Twayne, 1990. Peavler begins with an overview of Cortázar’s life and career and his short stories of the fantastic, the mysterious, the psychological, and the realistic. Only one chapter is devoted exclusively to his novels. Includes chronology, notes, annotated bibliography, and index.Stavans, Ilan. Julio Cortázar: A Study of the Short Fiction. New York: Twayne, 1996. See especially the chapters on the influence of Jorge Luis Borges on Cortázar’s fiction, his use of the fantastic, and his reliance on popular culture. Stavans also has a section on Cortázar’s role as writer and his interpretation of developments in Latin American literature. Includes chronology and bibliography.Yovanovich, Gordana. Julio Cortázar’s Character Mosaic: Reading the Longer Fiction. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991. Three chapters focus on Cortázar’s four major novels and his fluctuating presentations of characters as narrators, symbols, and other figures of language. Includes notes and bibliography.
Categories: Characters