The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes

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A black man and a slave who works in the stables of the Comendador of La Magdalena, Zaide becomes the lover of Antona Pérez after Lazaro’s father is exiled. Zaide is also the father of Antona Perez’s second child, Lazaro’s half-brother. Though Lazaro is afraid of Zaide at first, Lazaro soon learns that Zaide provides for his family, and this secures Lazaro’s trust. Zaide is then caught stealing and is separated from Lazaro and his mother as part of his punishment.

Zaide Quotes in The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes

The The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes quotes below are all either spoken by Zaide or refer to Zaide. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the NYRB Classics edition of The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes published in 2004.
Chapter 1 Quotes

I was very small at the time but I was struck by what my little brother had said, and I thought, “How many there must be in the world who run away from others because they do not see themselves!”

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker), Zaide
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

Lazaro is recalling that his younger half-brother would often become afraid of his own father’s dark skin and would run to his white-skinned mother in fear, not yet having realized that he himself was dark-skinned, too. This passage points out the illogic of prejudice, and the tendency to be cruel or punitive towards people based on characteristics that are out of their control. Indeed, the notion that even a dark-skinned person would absorb a prevalent racial prejudice and become afraid of his own father echoes the treatment of the poor throughout the book. Despite that the poor are shown to be oftentimes more kindhearted than the rich, those in power are consistently skeptical of and unjust towards the poor, punishing poor people for desperate acts while the corruption of the rich goes unremarked. Just as racism instills an unfounded distrust of dark-skinned people, the book will show that a rigid class hierarchy creates a system of violence and distrust towards the generally-innocent poor.

In addition, Lazaro’s observation about cruelty stemming from a person’s inability to see himself foreshadows the hypocrisy that pervades the remainder of the book and possibly illuminates the author’s motives. If religious corruption is a result of the Church’s inability to see its own hypocrisy, then there’s a strong case for writing a controversial book that critiques the church. It’s also notable that this is the most lucid and insightful observation that Lazaro makes about hypocrisy throughout the entire book. As Lazaro ages, he seems to become less and less able to reflect on his own actions and motives. Perhaps this is the author’s way of suggesting that people tend to become numb or blind to such obvious injustices as they grow older, and that children are better judges because they are innocent.


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Zaide Character Timeline in The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes

The timeline below shows where the character Zaide appears in The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
Mercy and Compassion Theme Icon
...whom she cooks and washes the clothes of his stable boys. There, Lazaro’s mother meets Zaide, a black slave who works in the stables. Lazaro, though initially mistrustful of Zaide, is... (full context)
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Social and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
Eventually Zaide and Antona’s relationship comes to the attention of the stable owners, who launch an investigation... (full context)