All the Pretty Horses

Alejandra’s great-aunt, the matriarch of the hacienda. She was a bookish child and had radical, free-thinking ideas, making her a natural partner to Francisco and Gustavo Madero, two brothers who would help to start the Mexican Revolution. Like Alejandra, Alfonsa was always proud and stubborn—she refused to return from Europe if it meant promising her father that she would renounce her relationship to the Madero brothers. In many ways, Alfonsa is an admirable example of a woman ahead of her time. She tells John Grady that it is not his poverty or class that matters to her, but his ability to affect Alejandra’s honor through his entanglement with the law. Nevertheless, Alfonsa’s true motivations remain ambiguous. It’s difficult to tell whether she is truly acting in Alejandra’s best interests, or is instead using her compelling story to justify more selfish interests. Her monologue on fate and destiny is similarly ambivalent.

Alfonsa Quotes in All the Pretty Horses

The All the Pretty Horses quotes below are all either spoken by Alfonsa or refer to Alfonsa. 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:
The Idea of the American West Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of All the Pretty Horses published in 1993.
Part 4 Quotes

Because the question for me was always whether that shape we see in our lives was there from the beginning or whether these random events are only called a pattern after the fact. Because otherwise we are nothing.

Related Characters: Alfonsa (speaker), John Grady Cole
Page Number: 230
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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My father had a great sense of the connectedness of things. I’m not sure I share it. He claimed that the responsibility for a decision could never be abandoned to a blind agency but could only be relegated to human decisions more and more remote from their consequences. The example he gave was of a tossed coin that was at one time a slug in a mint and of the coiner who took that slug from the tray and placed it in the die in one of two ways and from whose act all else followed, cara y cruz. No matter through whatever turnings nor how many of them. Till our turn comes at last and our turn passes.

Related Characters: Alfonsa (speaker), John Grady Cole
Page Number: 230
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

He said that those who have endured some misfortune will always be set apart but that it is just that misfortune which is their gift and which is their strength and that they must make their way back into the common enterprise of man for without they do so it cannot go forward and they themselves will wither in bitterness.

Related Characters: Alfonsa (speaker), John Grady Cole, Gustavo Madero
Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

The world is quite ruthless in selecting between the dream and the reality, even where we will not. Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.

Related Characters: Alfonsa (speaker), John Grady Cole
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

In history there are no control groups. There is no one to tell us what might have been. We weep over the might have been, but there is no might have been. There never was. It is supposed to be true that those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it. I dont believe knowing can save us. What is constant in history is greed and foolishness and a love of blood and this is a thing that even God—who knows all that can be known—seems powerless to change.

Related Characters: Alfonsa (speaker), John Grady Cole
Related Symbols: Religion, Blood
Page Number: 239
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

It’s not so much that I dont believe in it. I dont subscribe to its nomination. If fate is the law then is fate also subject to that law? At some point we cannot escape naming responsibility. It’s in our nature. Sometimes I think we are all like that myopic coiner at his press, taking the blind slugs one by one from the tray, all of us bent so jealously at our work, determined that not even chaos be outside of our own making.

Related Characters: Alfonsa (speaker), John Grady Cole
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate ve

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt molli

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Alfonsa Character Timeline in All the Pretty Horses

The timeline below shows where the character Alfonsa appears in All the Pretty Horses. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2
The Idea of the American West Theme Icon
...books, a piano, a pair of Greener guns, and other belongings of the dueña (madame) Alfonsa, Alejandra’s grandaunt and godmother. There are pictures of her taken in front of European cathedrals,... (full context)
Innocence, Expertise, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Alfonsa invites John Grady into the dining room, speaking with an English accent. They play chess,... (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Alfonsa says she lost her fingers in a shooting accident when she was seventeen, Alejandra’s age.... (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
...watching a storm from the north, and John Grady tells him about his conversation with Alfonsa. John Grady says she’s easy to talk to. Then he looks at Rawlins and asks... (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Several nights later, Alejandra knocks at John Grady’s bunk. She asks what Alfonsa said to him, and John Grady tells her. She says she won’t be treated in... (full context)
The Idea of the American West Theme Icon
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Innocence, Expertise, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...Don Héctor, who wins easily, tells John Grady of the history of Mexico and of Alfonsa and Francisco Madero, whose brother may have been engaged to her. The families were very... (full context)
Part 3
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Fate and Responsibility Theme Icon
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
...their steaks and fried potatoes, Rawlins lights a cigarette and asks why they’re not dead. Alfonsa the aunt must have paid them out, John Grady says. He expects it has to... (full context)
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
...mind. Rawlins says there’s only one kind of a deal Alejandra could have made with Alfonsa, and John Grady says he knows, but she’ll have to tell him herself. (full context)
Part 4
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Innocence, Expertise, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Fate and Responsibility Theme Icon
...hacienda just after dark and knocks at the gerente’s door. Antonio comes out, saying that Alfonsa is at home, but Don Héctor and his daughter have left for Mexico City. No... (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
...house, where Carlos is standing outside and nods to him gravely. María tells him that Alfonsa is still asleep, and that she will be gone all day and will return before... (full context)
Fate and Responsibility Theme Icon
...is born in a certain country and not another. No one speaks of Don Héctor, Alfonsa, or Alejandra. (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
After dinner John Grady waits in the kitchen until María tells him that Alfonsa is in the parlor. She stands formally and with a chilling elegance. Alfonsa says Héctor... (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Innocence, Expertise, and Knowledge Theme Icon
John Grady asks why Alfonsa bought them out of prison. She says he knows that, and that he also knows... (full context)
The Idea of the American West Theme Icon
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
John Grady says he would have thought Alfonsa’s own disappointments would have made her more sympathetic to others. Alfonsa says he thinks he... (full context)
Fate and Responsibility Theme Icon
Alfonsa sees a child, but also a version of herself, in Alejandra. In another life she... (full context)
The Idea of the American West Theme Icon
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
As a child, Alfonsa was deeply affected by the devastating poverty in Mexico. Families owned nothing, and attempted to... (full context)
The Idea of the American West Theme Icon
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Alfonsa says her family had compadrazgo (loosely, comradeship or closeness) with the family of Francisco Madero.... (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Innocence, Expertise, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
Alfonsa was especially attracted to Gustavo, who had a glass eye from an accident, and with... (full context)
The Idea of the American West Theme Icon
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
...the United States, but he and Gustavo returned with guns and the revolution began. Meanwhile, Alfonsa was sent to Europe. Her father refused to bring her home unless she promised to... (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Innocence, Expertise, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
...of rifle shots. Francisco was shot behind the penitentiary. The family went into exile, but Alfonsa is still close with Francisco’s wife Sara. They are joined by bonds of pain, as... (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Innocence, Expertise, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Fate and Responsibility Theme Icon
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
Alfonsa didn’t return from Europe until her father died, and now she regrets that she didn’t... (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Innocence, Expertise, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Alfonsa often speaks to her father at his grave, knowing he did not want to make... (full context)
Fate and Responsibility Theme Icon
John Grady says Alfonsa won’t let him make his case for being with Alejandra, and she says his case... (full context)