This novel describes the department of Valle before the arrival of machinery, a process "civilization" that upset forever the lives of the locals. A predominantly rural region, saw their once-fruitful lands, now become sterile on account of the machinery used for transporting the coal from the mines. Those mines have become the economic hub of the area and people from around the country came here with hopes of improving their standard of living. In this context appears Rudensindo Cristancho and his family, he and his never imagining that capitalism was anything but an opportunity for progress for the poor, left her life as a peasant to enter into a chain of exploitation that would leave only hunger, pain and misery.
The work in the most shameful that someone could endure and with that, meager wages that accompanied the unwarranted discounts to workers who left almost empty-handed, in other words, under more impoverished than the notorious period colonial slave trade. But the point was that the workers did not tolerate more abuse and Rudensindo between those involved and after hearing the claims of their colleagues, were promoted demonstrations and protests that led to the incursion of workers in the districts occupied by foreigners ( enriched with the money generated by the exploitation of slave labor mines and premises), whom they intended to draw comfort from their homes and sending them to work as laborers. But the fate of Rudensindo not be pleasant, dismembered and his family finished their existence amid the raging crowd, even his body unburied end crushed the hopes of progress as the result of so-called civilization opportunities.
The end of a series of chaotic events, fratricidal violence, flight of foreign and persecution by the authorities to the needy who claimed only a little dignity.