Otilia is both blessed with a body that is the epitome of feminine perfection and cursed by an ugly mole that mars her beautiful face. The juxtaposition between fabulous beauty and disfigurement proves unsettling for the villagers and she grows up friendless, save the family's hired hand Melquíades. Though most figured she would end up as a prostitute, she is married off to Isidro, the local police chief. Cruel and petty, this ogre of a man brutalizes her and eventually infects her with venereal disease, rendering her sterile. With the help of Melquíades, Otilia takes a series of lovers to spite her husband. One day, the wounded Ruben -- a wanted outlaw -- staggers onto her doorstep and immediately she is in love. Much to Melquíades' chagrin, she harbors and tends to the criminal as her husband is out hunting for him.