Mildred - Esperanza
Allan - Traven
Aslan Norval - Esperanza
The young marine in New York - Henry
Oaxaca trip - November 1942 - Esperanza goes to Oaxaca to Traven's remote jungle hut to nurse him. He is very sick and may be dying. She drains his liver. Traven looks up at her and says, you are very pretty, but not so pretty as your mother (according to the story).
August 1943 - Esperanza has been studying since February in la Escuela de las Artes del Libro, probably afilliated with Toledano's school. She promises to soon send a copy of her book to Henry - La Carta y el Recuerdo - the Letter and the Memory.
In her story, a young woman is in attendance at the death of an old revolutionary. An old revolutionary who wants to believe he can get well and start a new life with the young woman. The revolutionary is named Allan, an American in Mexico, and the young woman is named Mildred.
The story starts with a letter from Saigon, 1931, a prisoner, Allan, deep in the bowels of a rotten underground cell. The letter. The second part, the memory, starts just after his death, is the recollection of his last minutes, in Puerto Angel, Mexico, 1942.
When Henry Schnautz writes a letter to his mother on Dec. 11, 1942, describing Esperanza's visit to nurse the very sick American writer Traven, he describes a remote place on the Pacific in Oaxaca.
In Esperanza's story, Allan wants Mildred.
I want to live with a woman of my race, that speaks my own language, to treat me with her white skin and blue eyes. I want peace, quiet...
The old revolutionary wants at last to settle down, to have a cup of tea by the fireplace with his camel hair slippers. Allan is a writer.
When you wrote something good it was after those awful days, it was in China...
I guess you now devote yourself to writing rose-colored novels.
I will write no more. So far I have only terrible trials, bitterness and resentment poured into the paper.
Now comes María, the serious one.
Allan and Mildred are Americans. Maria is Mexican and older than Mildred. She is Allan's long time companion.
Traven had a Maria. Her name was Maria de la Luz Martinez. She lived with him in Oaxaca. She was his business agent. She was probably his wife. For all the attention the writers have focused on Traven's life, they have not determined what his relationship was with Maria de la Luz Martinez.
In Esperanza's story, Allan's affection is for Mildred. He promises her white dresses and flowers in her hair. Mildred says she has bought little porcelains. Many years later Esperanza mentions her love of little porcelains.
But Allan is very sick. Many hours pass, and it is Maria who is caring for him, and warning him, he is sick, the hour is coming, and Mildred will not be able to handle it.
When he takes a turn for the worse, he asks Maria - Why must you remain here, listening to wailing?
Maria - I would always be by your side, don't you understand? Your pain is my essence; I don't know how to smile, but look at my eyes, they are transparent, they will guide you toward what is now unavailable.
Allan -I love Mildred, I only want to look at myself in her blue and calm eyes. I want to live!
Maria - You have already lived.
Allan - No. It has been a paradox: to live dying, the dead soul, the body plagued by fever and hunger. In Saigon, in China, we worked among thousands
Maria - Then you wrote...
Maria says, why not seek serenity. Allan yells back, serenity, what is serenity to a man whose liver is undone by cancer, whose hands and limbs are wrinkled and yellow.
Maria - Calm down, it leads to nothing to think this way.
Allan - Its true, why think now of the only sweet and beautiful thing that I could have? When I had health, a healthy and beautiful body, I had to fight against the misery, to contemplate the terrifying view of the tragedies that surrounded me: unsightly women that had scores of children of bestial men; hungry children hit by their own parents; the unhappy that were killed over a a woman or for a bottle of liquor. Slaves, slaves!, I pitied - not realizing I was one of them.
Maria - Then you were twenty years old.
Allan - Yes, and dreamed of being able to get my voice to all parts teaching men to live in dignity.
Maria -You did a lot, your ideas were vigorous, beautiful.
Allan - But it seems incomprehensible. It was all useless! I traveled the world preaching, fighting to be understood. At twenty, we are rebels and pure, we are apostles and redeemers.
Maria - To liberate is difficult. The pain confuses you now, but you have done much. Although you can no longer continue ahead, others will go on the road that you traced.
Mildred returns, but she cannot stand to see the dying Allan. She runs out. Allan asks Maria to allow him to pass away without pain.
When Esperanza was trying to send her story to Henry, she said, I wanted you to see it for many reasons.
People have wondered why Traven's writing mysteriously stopped around
1940, and here, in the meeting between fact and fiction, you have the
same discussion, the uselessness, getting sick, getting old, getting tired,
wanting a simple life. In her letters, Esperanza usually refers to Traven
El Viejo, the old one. Only a couple of times in print does she
Mi padre. Perhaps she wanted Henry to see this story, the story of
the young girl and the old writer, to tell him the truth in fiction.
In the 1946 letter from B. to Henry, Traven does a good job pretending to be an angry father. If Traven felt real jealousy, not a father's jealousy, he may have expressed that himself in the novel Aslan Norval. In that novel, published in 1960, a beautiful young woman with an older husband meets a young Marine in New York City and has an affair with him. Traven, writing as Croves in a bitter letter to Henry in New York in 1951, oddly offers his guess that Henry was 14 years younger than Esperanza. The novel is in German and has recently been translated into English. It is available as an Ebook only. It is widely referred to as inferior and un-Travenesque.