The Bridge of San Luis Rey

by

Thornton Wilder

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Uncle Pio is Camila Perichole’s acting coach and assistant, a cunning, intelligent, and highly cultured jack-of-all-trades. Born out of wedlock to a wealthy Spanish nobleman, Uncle Pio spends his childhood on the streets of Madrid, where he does errands and tasks for various people in the city’s seedy underbelly. During this time, he develops a passion for Spanish theater, which he believes represents the world’s highest culture. Eventually, he moves to Lima, where his passion for theater leads him to adopt the young Camila Perichole and train her as an actress. The Perichole shares Uncle Pio’s clever nature, cultural awareness, and ability to navigate the city’s elite despite their lowly origins; however, the master is distinguished from his pupil by his indifference to wealth or social success, whereas the Perichole comes to crave these things. While Uncle Pio often seems like an unscrupulous opportunist, he reveals his integrity by single-handedly caring for the Perichole after she contracts smallpox, loses her social position and beauty, and even tries to push him away. In a gesture of goodwill, Uncle Pio decides to take the Perichole’s eldest son, Jaime, to live with him while his mother recovers. As they cross the bridge from the Perichole’s house into Lima, they are both swept up in the collapse and die.

Uncle Pio Quotes in The Bridge of San Luis Rey

The The Bridge of San Luis Rey quotes below are all either spoken by Uncle Pio or refer to Uncle Pio. 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 4: Uncle Pio Quotes

In the third place he wanted to be near those that loved Spanish literature and its masterpieces, especially in the theater. He had discovered all that treasure for himself, borrowing or stealing from the libraries of his patrons, feeding himself upon it in secrecy […].

Related Characters: Uncle Pio
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

Her whole nature became gentle and mysterious and oddly wise; and it all turned to him. She could find no fault in him and she was sturdily loyal. They loved one another deeply but without passion. He respected the slight nervous shadow that crossed her face when he came too near her. But there arose out of this denial itself the perfume of a tenderness, that ghost of passion which, in the most unexpected relationship, can make even a whole lifetime devoted to irksome duty pass like a gracious dream.

Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

“How absurd you are,” she said smiling. “You said that as boys say it. You don’t seem to learn as you grow older, Uncle Pio. There is no such thing as that kind of love and that kind of island. It’s in the theater you find such things.”

Related Characters: Camila Perichole / Micaela Villegas (speaker), Uncle Pio
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Bridge of San Luis Rey LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Bridge of San Luis Rey PDF

Uncle Pio Character Timeline in The Bridge of San Luis Rey

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle Pio appears in The Bridge of San Luis Rey. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: The Marquesa de Montemayor
Acts of God and Individual Will Theme Icon
...She concludes by noting that the actress is always accompanied by a strange man named Uncle Pio ; no one knows if he is “her father, her lover, or her son.” (full context)
Part 4: Uncle Pio
Art and Memory Theme Icon
In a letter to Doña Clara, Doña María describes Uncle Pio by comparing him to a messenger ant she sees carrying information between various other worker... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
In her next letter, Doña María writes rapturously of Uncle Pio , saying that he’s “disreputable” but “delightful.” If he wrote her letters, she says, future... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Uncle Pio is the Perichole’s “singing-master, her coiffeur, her masseur, her reader, her errand-boy, her banker”—and, some... (full context)
Art and Memory Theme Icon
...city’s most talented actress. Most people assume that she’s nothing compared to Spanish actresses, but Uncle Pio knows she is the among the best in the world. (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Uncle Pio is born the illegitimate son of a wealthy Spanish landowner. At the age of ten,... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Art and Memory Theme Icon
Although he is good at every job he does, Uncle Pio is never satisfied with one job for long. As he grows older, he realizes that... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Because of “one of those quarrels that arise so naturally in brothels,” Uncle Pio has to flee Spain for Peru. In South America, he’s even more successful than in... (full context)
Art and Memory Theme Icon
However, although Uncle Pio is capable and cunning, he never becomes rich—he’s indifferent to money. He buys a house... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
One day, Uncle Pio comes across Camila Perichole—who, at the time, was a twelve-year-old girl named Micaela Villegas, working... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
...remains deeply loyal to her first protector—“they loved each other deeply but without passion.” Sometimes Uncle Pio feels attracted to his protégé, but this “ghost of a passion” is the kind of... (full context)
Art and Memory Theme Icon
Together, Uncle Pio and Camila Perichole travel across South America, seeking new audiences for her songs. As Camila... (full context)
Art and Memory Theme Icon
After each performance, Camila and Uncle Pio talk over the entire play, analyzing what she’s done well and what can improve. Even... (full context)
Art and Memory Theme Icon
As time goes on, Camila becomes less obsessed with artistic perfection than Uncle Pio . In part, this is due to the lack of interesting roles for women in... (full context)
Art and Memory Theme Icon
Uncle Pio is always happy when a new actress arrives in the city, because Camila always performs... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Uncle Pio doesn’t like Camila’s invitations to the palace, although he’s intrigued that her lessons from Don... (full context)
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... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
However, Uncle Pio never stops worrying about Camila. In his mind, the world is divided into “those who... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
...furious temper and “unnatural sweetness.” At the beginning of her entrance to society, she forbade Uncle Pio from appearing with her in public; now, she doesn’t even like it when he visits... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
One day, Uncle Pio arrives at Camila’s villa and coaxes her into speaking with him in her French gardens.... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Uncle Pio awaits Camila in the French gardens, which look out onto the Andes. The sun is... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Art and Memory Theme Icon
Uncle Pio begs Camila to hear him out, but she instantly begins to rail at him that... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Eventually, Camila relents and begs Uncle Pio to forgive her. She says that Jaime has been ill all afternoon, and she is... (full context)
Art and Memory Theme Icon
Uncle Pio says that Camila is “a very great artist” and that she could even succeed in... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Art and Memory Theme Icon
Humbly, Uncle Pio says that having known Camila is “enough for my whole life,” and that he is... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Undaunted, Uncle Pio worms his way back into her household, managing her affairs and lending her money. However,... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
One day, Uncle Pio opens Camila’s door to find her face covered in a “paste of chalk and cream.”... (full context)
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One morning, Uncle Pio wakes up at dawn and steals onto Camila’s estate. Lying beneath her window, he begins... (full context)
Dogma vs. Altruism Theme Icon
Uncle Pio entreats Camila to let him take Jaime back to Lima, where he can be the... (full context)
Dogma vs. Altruism Theme Icon
Trying to force Camila into agreement, Uncle Pio demands that she pay back the money he’s lent her (although he has no intention... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Camila says Uncle Pio is a cruel man to continually force gratitude on her. For a while, she looks... (full context)
Acts of God and Individual Will Theme Icon
The next day, Jaime appears at the inn, dressed in tattered clothes. He and Uncle Pio set off in a cart, but since Jaime becomes sick from the rough movement, Uncle... (full context)
Part 5: Perhaps an Intention
Acts of God and Individual Will Theme Icon
...hopes for the young girl. The Perichole contradicts the “unsavory testimonies” that others give about Uncle Pio . (full context)
Dogma vs. Altruism Theme Icon
...to the city, she imagines the overwhelming crowds looking at the bodies of Jaime and Uncle Pio , and the meaningless rituals of the church. As she nears the church of San... (full context)
Dogma vs. Altruism Theme Icon
...that she is a “sinner” and doesn’t deserve praise. The Abbess asks about Jaime and Uncle Pio , and Camila pours out the entire story of her life, from her lonely childhood... (full context)