Behind the Mask

Zorro; Isabel Allende

The Context

When and Where?

  • Begins in Southern California
  • 1800's
  • Shifts to Spain for the next 5 years
  • Characters then travel back to Southern California for Final Showdown

Social Contexts?

  • Important for boys to become men independently
  • Not uncommon for boys to leave the house at a young age
  • Emphasis on social traditions such as fencing, traveling, leadership, rather than schooling
  • Indian customs: Soul Animals (Zorro= Fox), Fencing under a maestro,
    • Spain

      • Flamenco Music and Dancing

      • Bullfights

      • Celebrations

Political Contexts?

  • Spanish are taking over Native American land

  • Spain is at war for independence

  • On the the other side of North America, the United States has declared war on Britain
  • Rebuilding after the French Revolution in Europe.

Content Components

Modern Context?

  • The power of one vs. the power of many
  • It takes one person to stand up for what is right
  • Then others will follow the set example

  • The effect a mask has on a personality
  • Zorro became confident and poised when he was behind the mask
  • Representative of being anonymous
  • Humanity creates/finds different personality's when they can hide behind an anonymous title or a computer screen

Significance to Us?

  • Humanity longs to break from the social norm and become the hero
  • Relate to Zorro because he is no super powers or divine right to rule
  • He is an average guy who seeks justice for all, and follows what he sees as right
  • Though not everyone has access to master swordsmen, or beautiful naives, it's the selfless acts that make Zorro the hero he is
  • Simply by holding a door open, or saying bless you after someones sneeze can brighten someones day, and make you the hero in that moment

Literary Value

  • The Typical Quest straight from Foster
  1. A Quester: Diego de la Vega (Zorro)
  2. A Place to Go: Barcelona, Spain
  3. A Stated Reason to Go There: Study under the famed maestro Manuel Escalante
  4. Challenges and Trials en Route: Pirates, nemesis Moncada, new love interest Juliana
  5. A Real Reason to Go There: Use his skills to right the injustice he see's around the world

  • First Person-Objective Narration
  • Objective Narration: "The narrator disappears and the story seems to tell itself through action and dialogue" (Funk).
  • Keeps the story upbeat by letting the action tell the story
  • Places emphasis on the story itself rather than the narrators thoughts


Zorro, by Isabel Allende, is a tale of war on injustice. Diego de la Vega, born into a time of conflict, becomes a sword wielding hero against enemies of freedom and justice. His birth alone is symbolic of an effort to relieve conflict between Native American and Spanish military. Being born with this perspective allows, Diego, or Zorro as he later is called, to view the world in a different light and sets a fire within him to right the wrongs he witnesses.

Isabel Allende’s character, Zorro, embodies the ideals of selflessness and justice. From the time Diego de la Vega (Zorro) was a small boy he fought for the rights of those around him. Diego saved the weak minded kid in his school from the class bullies looking for a laugh. He went to his father and begged for him to take action against their neighbors who were driving Indians off of their own land. When legal actions failed to work, he became the masked crusader, acting in the night to save those who could not help themselves.

Zorro’s selflessness and sense of justice comes from his multicultural background. His mother’s Indian roots allow him to understand the anguish of the downtrodden and to see the wrongs committed. His father’s military and aristocratic background gives him the sense that there is something he can do about the problems around him. Allende is trying to show the reader that our backgrounds allow us to see what others may not, and we can all take a stand against what is wrong and better the world one step at a time.

In this book, anything that could possibly go wrong for Diego and Bernardo does, which makes the plot unrealistic and not believable. On the other hand the message that Allende wishes to send the reader still hits home. The book is a little laughable considering the trouble Zorro and his sidekicks manage to get themselves into. Although the book seems fairly unrealistic the idea of hero and what his actions stand for makes the book a good read and entertaining to those that have a taste for adventure.

"Zorro" 60-second Recap

"Zorro" 60-Second Recap

Other books like this

  • Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, Isabel Allende
  • Ines of my Soul, Isabel Allende
  • Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything your American History Textbook got Wrong, James W. Loewen
  • Island beneath the Sea: A Novel (P.S.), Isabel Allende