The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes

Lazaro de Tormes Character Analysis

Lazaro is the story’s narrator and protagonist. Born to a poor family in Spain and given away by his mother at a young age, Lazaro spends his childhood serving many different masters who treat him cruelly. At first, he describes his experiences with the innocence of a young child and even a sense of humor, but as Lazaro grows older, his outlook becomes increasingly cynical and unfeeling. By the end of the book Lazaro has found a stable job advertising wines as a town crier and he seems to be known locally as a cuckold (someone whose wife is unfaithful), but he is too jaded for this to bother him much. Over the course of this short novel, Lazaro transforms from a sympathetic character into a hardened, amoral man. This transformation is symbolic of the book’s general message that only those willing to trade honor for profit can succeed in a corrupt society.

Lazaro de Tormes Quotes in The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes

The The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes quotes below are all either spoken by Lazaro de Tormes or refer to Lazaro de Tormes. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the NYRB Classics edition of The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes published in 2004.
Prologue Quotes

And therefore nothing of this sort should be destroyed or thrown away unless it is utterly detestable, but on the contrary such things should be brought to the knowledge of everyone, especially if they are utterly harmless and even likely to bear some fruit.

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker)
Page Number: 3-4
Explanation and Analysis:

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If it were otherwise, there are very few who would write for just one reader, because it is hard work, and those who undertake it hope to be rewarded, not in money, but in having the efforts seen and read and, when possible, praised. That is why Cicero says: “Honor is the nurse of the arts.”

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker)
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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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It seemed to me that at that moment I awoke out of the simplicity in which I had remained like a sleeping child. And I said to myself, “He’s right. I’d better keep my eyes open and my wits about me, for I’m on my own, and I’ll have to figure out how to manage for myself.”

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker), The blind man
Related Symbols: Horns
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

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It is a joy to me to recount these childish matters to Your Excellency, to show how much virtue there can be in those who are born to low estate and drag themselves up, and how much vice in the great who let themselves be dragged down.

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker)
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

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He put wine on the places where he’d cut my face with the broken jug, and he smiled and said, “What do you think of that, Lazaro? The same thing that got you hurt heals you afterwards and gets you back into shape.”

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker), The blind man
Related Symbols: Wine
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Oh wicked object, the fruit of worse behavior! How many there are who would like to see you on their neighbors’ heads, and yet how few want to have you for themselves, or even want to hear you mentioned in connection with them! … It’s a bad dinner and supper I’ve got in my hand here, but I’ll give it to you one of these days… What I’ve said is true. You’ll see, if you live long enough.”

Related Characters: The blind man (speaker), Lazaro de Tormes
Related Symbols: Horns
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Honestly, I waste more wine washing this boy in one year than I drink myself in two. Lazaro, to put it at its very least you owe more to wine than you do to your own father. He only gave you your being once, whereas wine has brought you to life a thousand times. … I’ll tell you, if there’s anyone in this world to whom wine will be a blessing, it will be you.”

Related Characters: The blind man (speaker), Lazaro de Tormes
Related Symbols: Wine
Page Number: 29
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.

Chapter 2 Quotes

All I can say is that my new master had collected all the stinginess in the world and was hoarding it. Whether he had been born with that character or had put it on with his priest’s cassock I don’t know.

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker), The priest
Page Number: 33-34
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I’ve had two masters. The first one nearly starved me to death and when I left him I took up with this one who’s virtually brought me to the edge of the grave. If I quit this one now and land myself with another one who’s even worse, there’s only one thing that can happen to me: I’ll die.”

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker), The priest
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

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So it went on, and we kept it up at a great rate, fulfilling the old saying that “Where one door shuts another opens.”

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker), The priest
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

“Stuffing is a pursuit for pigs, and men who have any self-respect should eat moderately.”

“Oh, I know what you mean alright!” I said to myself. “And to hell with all the medicinal qualities and other virtues which every master I take up with manages to find in my hunger.”

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker), The squire
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Oh Lord, how many of this sort must there be scattered through the world, suffering things for the moldy misery they call honor which they would never suffer for thee!”

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker), The squire
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

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“He’s poor,” I said to myself, “and nobody can give what he hasn’t got. Whereas that miserly blind man and that niggardly skin-flint of a priest had both done alright for themselves in the name of God, the one with his hand-kissing and the other with his line of patter, and they starved me half to death. So it’s perfectly fair to be down on them and to take pity on this one.”

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker), The blind man, The priest, The squire
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Sinner that I am,” I said, “that’s why God doesn’t put Himself out to keep you, because you won’t let anybody ask Him to!”

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker), The squire
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

When they tried this out the first time, I must admit to my shame that I was frightened by it like most of the others, and thought it was just what it appeared to be. But afterwards, when I saw how my master and the constable laughed over the affair and made fun of it, I realized that it had all been worked out by my industrious and inventive master.

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker), The seller of indulgences
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

I did so well at this trade that at the end of the four years which I spent at it, by carefully putting aside my money I’d saved up enough to outfit myself decently in a suit of second-hand clothes…. Once I was respectably dressed I told my master to take back his donkey because I didn’t want to follow that trade any more.

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker), The squire
Page Number: 111-112
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

“I’ll swear by the consecrated host that she’s as virtuous as any woman living within the gates of Toledo, and if any man says otherwise, I’m his enemy to the death.”

Related Characters: Lazaro de Tormes (speaker), Lazaro’s wife
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lazaro de Tormes Character Timeline in The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes

The timeline below shows where the character Lazaro de Tormes appears in The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Social and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
The book begins with a short prologue addressed to “Your Excellency.” The narrator does not introduce himself in the prologue or identify the person to which it is... (full context)
Social and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
The narrator admits that, although his storytelling is clumsy at times and his life as a poor... (full context)
Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
The narrator suggests that he is telling his story from the beginning instead of starting in the... (full context)
Chapter 1
Social and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
The story begins with the narrator introducing himself as Lazaro de Tormes, son of Tomé Gonzáles and Antona Pérez, born in a village near Salamanca.... (full context)
Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
Mercy and Compassion Theme Icon
Lazaro’s widowed mother moves to Salamanca to look for work (the author gives slight innuendo that... (full context)
Social and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Lazaro recalls how his younger half-brother would often become afraid of his own father’s dark skin... (full context)
Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
One day a blind man comes to the inn and, thinking that Lazaro could be of use to him, asks Lazaro’s mother to give the boy to him.... (full context)
Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...man realizes that he isn’t making any money in Salamanca and decides that he and Lazaro should leave the town, so Lazaro returns to the inn to say goodbye to his... (full context)
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
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As the blind man and Lazaro are leaving Salamanca they come across a statue of a stone bull by a bridge.... (full context)
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
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Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
Lazaro describes how the blind man is able to collect a fair amount of money by... (full context)
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
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During this time Lazaro also learns to steal swigs of wine from the blind man’s jug, but the blind... (full context)
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
In their travels, the blind man and Lazaro come to the town of Almorox where a kind stranger gives the blind man a... (full context)
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
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In Escalona, Lazaro and the blind man stay in a shoemaker’s shop where ropes are hung from the... (full context)
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
...staying in Escalona, the blind man is roasting sausages and cooking a stew. He gives Lazaro some money and asks him to go fetch some wine. Lazaro takes the money, but... (full context)
Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
Mercy and Compassion Theme Icon
In the subsequent days, Lazaro is nursed back to health by the friendly innkeeper’s wife, who uses the wine Lazaro... (full context)
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...to rain, the blind man decides that they should find an inn for the night. Lazaro, seeing his opportunity for both escape and revenge, leads the blind man through the rain... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Lazaro meets his next master in Maqueda, where he goes to the priest to ask for... (full context)
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
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...locking it away in a chest for himself. While the priest feeds himself quite liberally, Lazaro is only permitted one old onion every four days and a little bit of bread... (full context)
Social and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
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The only opportunities Lazaro has to feed himself adequately are at funerals, when he and the priest both stuff... (full context)
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One day a tinker comes to the door while the priest is away and Lazaro convinces the man to give him a key that will open the priest’s chest of... (full context)
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Then Lazaro gets the idea that, instead of stealing entire loaves, he can break off many little... (full context)
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Social and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
...begins to lay mouse traps inside the chest, baiting them with pieces of cheese, but Lazaro is able to take the cheese from the traps without setting them off. When the... (full context)
Social and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
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Lazaro regains consciousness three days later, nursed back to health by a local healer and the... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Lazaro makes his way to the city of Toledo, where people give him alms when he... (full context)
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Lazaro spends the entire morning following the squire around town and through the market, where Lazaro... (full context)
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Finally, Lazaro and the squire arrive at the squire’s home. Once inside, the squire questions Lazaro about... (full context)
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Lazaro notices that the squire’s house seems completely empty of furniture or food. The squire asks... (full context)
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Lazaro takes out a piece of bread he had saved from begging and begins eating it.... (full context)
Social and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Lazaro and the squire go into the squire’s bedroom, where Lazaro sees that the bed is... (full context)
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In the morning, the squire dresses himself very slowly. He shows Lazaro his sword, which is very finely crafted. Then, as the squire is leaving to go... (full context)
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After Lazaro has made the bed, he leaves the house to fetch water from the river. While... (full context)
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Lazaro becomes hungry while waiting for the squire to return and leaves the house again to... (full context)
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One night when the squire gets out of bed to use the bathroom, Lazaro decides to see whether the squire is as poor as he seems and digs through... (full context)
Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
Mercy and Compassion Theme Icon
...the city with a short supply of food. Four days after the announcement is made, Lazaro sees long lines of poor people leaving the city and becomes so afraid of being... (full context)
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...the squire comes home with a real (the equivalent of around 68 blancas) and tells Lazaro that they will be moving away from the cursed house. He sends Lazaro to the... (full context)
Social and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
In the days that follow, Lazaro and the squire eat very well. One day, when the squire is in a good... (full context)
Truth, Deception, and Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Social and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Mercy and Compassion Theme Icon
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...man and woman come back later, the squire still has not returned. By night time, Lazaro becomes afraid of sleeping in the house alone so he goes to the house of... (full context)
Poverty, Crime, and Violence Theme Icon
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...an officer of the law. Upon entering the house and finding it empty, they accuse Lazaro of stealing the squire’s valuables and hiding them elsewhere. Lazaro begins to cry and explains... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Lazaro’s neighbors help him find his next master, a friar from the monastery who loved wandering... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Lazaro’s fifth master is a seller of indulgences (also referred to as a pardoner) whom Lazaro... (full context)
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...flailing his limbs. It takes more than fifteen men to hold the constable steady. Meanwhile Lazaro’s master remains on his knees in the pulpit, in a kind of religious trance. When... (full context)
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...town has taken an indulgence for themselves and their family members, dead or alive. Before Lazaro and the pardoner leave the town, the local clergymen approach the pardoner to ask whether... (full context)
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On their way to the region of La Mancha, the seller of indulgences and Lazaro come to a village that is even more reluctant to buy indulgences. Here, the seller... (full context)
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Lazaro explains that he was too afraid of his master to expose his lies, and that... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Lazaro’s next master is a tambourine painter. Lazaro helps the tambourine painter mix his colors and... (full context)
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One day Lazaro enters a cathedral where he meets a chaplain, who employs Lazaro by putting him in... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Lazaro settles down with the second constable (different from the first constable who helped the pardoner... (full context)
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Lazaro finds work as a town crier in Toledo. His job is to advertise the local... (full context)
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One day the archpriest of San Salvador takes notice of Lazaro for his skill in selling the archpriest’s wines, and he arranges for Lazaro to marry... (full context)
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However, Lazaro’s marriage is plagued by rumors that his wife is the archpriest’s mistress. Lazaro tries to... (full context)
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One day the archpriest tells Lazaro he would do well to ignore the rumors, assuring him that his honor and the... (full context)
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Lazaro concludes by noting that this all took place in the same year that the emperor... (full context)