The Peacock Sheds His Tail

By Alice Tisdale Hobart
THE “peacock” of this novel of modern Mexico, by the author of Oil for the Iximps of China, is a symbol of the few who once held in their hands the wealth and power of the nation. But today Mexicans can sing in a version of one of the songs of the Revolution:
In our democracy,
Now that the peacock has shed his tail,
Every little animal has his say on Election Day.
The proud Spanish caste that ruled old Mexico is personified in these pages by the Navarro family, headed by the patriarchal Don Julián and his wife Doña María. Through the decades of the twenties and thirties they wage a losing war to hold their grandchildren to their own credo of the triumph and continuance of the Old World within the New under the banners of Spain, the mother country, and the mother Catholic Church. Concha Navarro defies her grandparents to marry a “gringo" and a Protestant; the adventure of her marriage is the central motive of the book. Ignacio Navarro emerges painfully from the dilettantism to which he was roared to ally himself with the patriots of his country in their fight against the return to dominance of the hacendados and against a more recent enemy, the nationalist party of the Sinarquistas, whose wires are pulled from afar by Fascist Spain and Nazi Germany.
Mrs. Hobart applies her local color in strokes as broad as those of a Mexican mural. The men and women of her book, from Concha and Ignacio to Soledad, a daughter of the Revolution, are types to whom Hollywood alone can give individuality. But as the portrait of an individual nation her story lives, for she displays with an absorbing clarity the hundred crossing elements, racial, religious, economic, and political, that form the special character of the new Mexico: a land where the revolutionary soldiers’ song can be heard rising above the streets simultaneously with the “Ave Maria,” and whose citizens, true Mexicans sprung from the mingling of Spanish and Indian blood, are evolving a government of the people.