Signs Preceding the End of the World Character List
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Makina is the protagonist of the story. She operates the switchboard in her Mexican village, connecting people and relaying messages in three languages (Spanish, English, and the indigenous language of her area). Due to her linguistic skills and confidentiality, she is highly respected by everyone, particularly the local gang bosses. Her role as a messenger is extended when her mother gives her a note to be delivered to her brother in the U.S., and Mr Aitch, one of the rulers of the underworld, asks her to deliver a package to Mr P.
She appears nonchalant and cold at times, and always in control of her situation. For example, when she is groped by a young man on the bus, she bends his finger until it almost breaks. Moreover, she saves a group of illegal Mexican immigrants from a ranger by exposing his racism, but she quickly moves on before the immigrants can thank her. The only one she is really close to his her mother Cora.
Cora is Makina’s loving mother. When Makina meets other maternal figures on her journey, she frequently compares them to her mother, whom she looks forward to meeting again. However, as Makina and her brother stay in the U.S. after illegally crossing the border, Cora’s attempt to reunite the family through the message that Makina was supposed to deliver to her brother fails, and she ironically increases the distance between her and her children.
Makina’s brother had left his Mexican hometown to claim some land, but his travels eventually bring him to the United States, where he works in the household of an American family. When the family offers him a large sum of money to assume the identity of their son to go to war instead of him, he accepts and survives his deployment. Since the family has not expected his return, they cannot pay him in full and move away. Since then he lives in the army barracks, where his sister Makina eventually tracks him down. However, having assumed a new name and thus a new identity, Makina’s brother has lost his sense of belonging and seems to have become aimless.
Mr Aitch is a violent gang leader who facilitates Makina’s illegal border crossing in exchange for the delivery of a parcel, most likely drugs. He respects Makina, which is evident when he stops playing dominoes with his thugs, giving her his full attention when she meets him at the Pulquería Raskolnikova.
Chucho is a coyote who helps Makina cross the border. He saves her from drowning when they try to float over the Rio Grande in a tube, drives her through the desert, and enables her to escape further inward by wrestling with a rancher who tries to arrest them. Even though he appears to be injured in the fight, he reappears at the end of the novel to lead Makina into the mysterious underworld of gangsters. Therefore, he represents the god Xolotl, who appears as a dog and guides souls to the underworld.
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