This study demonstrates Leocadia's ¿textualization,¿ her inscription in the archetypal female typifications of Virgin and whore, and the ways in which these are interpreted (¿read¿) by her rapist Rodolfo. It compares his interpretive abilities to those of Leocadia and Doña Estefanía, both of whom prove to be better readers of Rodolfo ¿namely, his predilection for female beauty¿ and as a result are able to entice him to marry Leocadia. Despite the fact that Rodolfo's crime remains unpunished and he, unrepentant, a defense is provided for Leocadia on the levels of story and discourse. On the level of story Doña Estefanía's intercession brings about the marriage and the subsequent restoration of Leocadia's honor. On the level of discourse the ironic imposition of the conventional ¿happy ending¿ as well as the sustained narrative condemnation of the crime throughout the novel reveals a criticism of seventeenth-century Spanish society and its treatment of women.