Caleb Landers travels into the Rocky Mountains and then to Alta California. The violence that was commonplace in this period of history is brought to life by Caleb and María as they not only fight Indians and renegade whites, but also the elements while crossing the frontier.
Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821. The lands from Texas to California first belonged to Mexico, then to Texas. Mexico owned the territory which stretched from Santa Fé to the 42nd parallel to the Sierra Nevada Mountains-including what is now Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Colorado. It was a vast wasteland occupied by savage Indians and occasionally American or French-Canadian fur trappers who were frequently wilder than the savages.
The plight of women in those early days was much different than that of today's liberated women; yet their intelligence, their needs, and their ambitions were the same. As María matures and becomes sexually involved with Caleb and other lovers, her confusion is compounded by her sexuality, as well as the circumstances surrounding the women of that period.