The Bridge of San Luis Rey

by

Thornton Wilder

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Captain Alvarado Character Analysis

a well-known Peruvian explorer, Captain Alvarado is a reserved but deeply compassionate man. His friends, including Doña María and the Abbess, believe that his ceaseless traveling is a means of distracting himself from the tragic loss of his daughter several years ago. Captain Alvarado’s experiences with grief allow him to connect with Esteban after the loss of his twin brother Manuel, when no one else can comfort him. Heroically, he prevents Esteban from committing suicide and convinces him to accept a position on his exploring crew. As the two men journey into Lima, Esteban dies in the bridge collapse, but Captain Alvarado is spared.

Captain Alvarado Quotes in The Bridge of San Luis Rey

The The Bridge of San Luis Rey quotes below are all either spoken by Captain Alvarado or refer to Captain Alvarado. 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:
Acts of God and Individual Will Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Collins edition of The Bridge of San Luis Rey published in 1927.
Part 3: Esteban Quotes

He was the awkwardest speaker in the world apart from the lore of the sea, but there are times when it requires a high courage to speak the banal. He could not be sure the figure on the floor was listening, but he said, “We do what we can. We push on, Esteban, as best we can.”

Related Characters: Captain Alvarado (speaker), Esteban
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:
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Captain Alvarado Character Timeline in The Bridge of San Luis Rey

The timeline below shows where the character Captain Alvarado appears in The Bridge of San Luis Rey. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 3: Esteban
Art and Memory Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
After thinking long and hard, the Abbess summons Captain Alvarado. He is a seasoned traveler accustomed to making expeditions throughout the world. He’s famous... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Esteban and Manuel have always respected Captain Alvarado and even done some work for him in the past, so the Abbess knows... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
That night, Captain Alvarado treats Esteban to dinner and gets him very drunk. Gently, the captain says that... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...told him that she suffered a “serious loss” just as he did, and he tells Captain Alvarado that “women can’t bear that kind of a thing like we can.” Captain Alvarado... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
When the drunken Esteban finally passes out, Captain Alvarado stands outside the bar and looks up at the sky, remembering the last time... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...change of heart and says he doesn’t want to join the crew after all. When Captain Alvarado tries to coax him, Esteban goes upstairs. He doesn’t know what to do, since... (full context)
Dogma vs. Altruism Theme Icon
...falls to the floor, crying out in anguish that he is alone. Looking at him, Captain Alvarado re-lives the first hours of his own grief. Even though he knows that he’s... (full context)
Acts of God and Individual Will Theme Icon
...men set off for Lima. When they reach the bridge of San Luis Rey, the Captain stays behind to arrange the transportation of the luggage. Esteban heads directly onto the bridge... (full context)
Part 4: Uncle Pio
Acts of God and Individual Will Theme Icon
Eventually, Don Andrés invites Uncle Pio to join the dinner parties, as well as Captain Alvarado. All the men gather in the early evening, when the Perichole is still performing;... (full context)
Acts of God and Individual Will Theme Icon
...movement, Uncle Pio carries him on his shoulders. As they reach the bridge, they encounter Captain Alvarado, and soon after they stop to speak to “an old lady who was travelling... (full context)
Part 5: Perhaps an Intention
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...is watching as he mourns his only son; he wonders if Camila is in attendance. Captain Alvarado stands in the square and thinks about “how false, how unreal” the whole affair... (full context)