Esteban Trueba is first introduced in the novel as a man to be admired. He drops everything in his life for the woman he has fallen head over heels in love with, Rosa de Valle, and begins to dig for his fortune in a gold mine. He seeks this fortune all in an effort to obtain sufficient funding to go back home and marry Rosa properly. This is the Esteban that readers would identify as a caring man; willing to sacrifice his own well being for another. But a tragic turn of events causes Esteban to begin a metamorphosis into a, for lack of better phrasing, less than admirable character.
When Rosa’s life is mistakenly taken in the place of her fathers it is as if any reason Esteban had to live died along with her. Upon receiving news of this Esteban is thrown into a fit of range; something he was prone to as a child. He leaves the desert mine and makes his way home to his Mother and Sister. The readers are given some insight into the background of Esteban, which provides the story of how Esteban first became entranced by Rosa. The author likely includes this story to draw emotion from readers so they can better sympathize with Esteban’s loss.
Esteban informs his sister, whom with he is less than friendly, that he will be setting out to some land they own in an effort to make something of his now seemingly meaningless life. Simply from the context of the conversation between these characters can readers infer that Esteban is a changed man. Upon arriving on his land, he meets the many peasants living there. Thus begins the tyrannical rule of Esteban Trueba. He begins to search for meaning by means of wealth and women. He exploits the residents of his land, and in many occasions, he even rapes the woman.
The loss of a woman he loved turned Esteban into a cold heartless man. But his loss is no excuse for his actions. Esteban is a rarity throughout the novel. He comes into the Novel as a man whose only goal in life is to please a woman. (Rosa) One of the only men who does not hold a position of power over women; like Father Restrepo and Severo De Valle. The loss of this token male character seems to mark a twist in the tale for not only Esteban’s life, but the lives of the de Valle family as well.
I have included a before and after photo deploring Esteban’s moods while Rosa is alive, and after she is passed.