The intriguing question is why Michel tells part of his story in the third person. I would suggest that it is a way to simulate a divided consciousness, a person under mental stress, which is what is revealed by the end of the story. A detective plot in which Michel gradually figures out what was going on in the park, which leads to a traumatic climax. The time is the now of the writing of the story. The secondary setting is the park area when Michel took the photograph of the woman and the boy. The time is in the past.
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Some of the "expendable" chapters at first seem like random musings, but upon closer inspection solve questions that arise during the reading of the first two parts of the book.
Several narrative techniques are employed throughout the book, and frequently overlap, including first person, third person, and a kind of stream-of-consciousness. Traditional spelling and grammatical rules are often bent and sometimes broken outright. Plot chapters 1—36 [ edit ] The first 36 chapters of the novel in numerical order are grouped under the heading "From the Other Side. He experiences life in Paris in the s.
The other characters consist of La Maga and a band of bohemian intellectuals who call themselves the Serpent Club. The story opens with Horacio searching the bridges of Paris for La Maga, who has disappeared.
The story progresses in a non-linear order. La Maga disappears. Horacio and his friend Etienne visit an old man whom Horacio had witnessed being struck by a car on one of his solitary walks. He turns out to be Morelli, an iconoclastic writer and literary critic much beloved of the Serpent Club.
The Club disbands. Horacio retreats to a bridge, where he meets a homeless woman, Emmanuele. The police arrest Emmanuele and Horacio for lewd behavior. The news fills Traveler with a dark sense of foreboding; nonetheless, he and Talita greet Horacio at the docks, where Oliveira momentarily mistakes Talita for La Maga. Horacio then settles with Gekrepten in a hotel room located directly across the street from the flat Traveler and Talita share, where his mind slowly begins to unravel.
Unable to decipher the mystery, and unable to tell Horacio to leave them alone, he begins to sleep less and less, and his sense of restlessness increases. Horacio, meanwhile, observing the relationship between Traveler and Talita, who more and more reminds him of La Maga, endeavors to enter more intimately into their lives, but he is unable to do so.
His frustrations increase, and he begins to show signs of impending mental breakdown. One hot afternoon, he spends hours on the floor trying to straighten nails, although he has no particular use in mind for them. He then convinces Traveler and Talita to help him build a makeshift bridge between the windows of the two buildings over which Talita can cross.
She feels it is a test of some sort. In the end, Talita does not cross between the buildings. Soon after this incident, the owner of the circus sells the operation to a Brazilian businessman and invests in a local mental institution. Traveler, Talita and Horacio decide to go to work there despite the irony of the situation, or perhaps because of it.
Horacio jests that the patients in the hospital will be no more mad than the three of them, anyway. On the day the ownership of the hospital is to be transferred, they are told that all the inmates must agree to the deal by signing a document, and that the three of them must act as witnesses. They meet a good-natured orderly named Remorino as well as a Dr. Ovejero, who manages the facility. The former owner of the circus and his wife, Cuca, are also present. One by one the inmates are led in to sign the document, a procedure that lasts well into the night.
Talita becomes the resident pharmacist at the hospital, while Horacio and Traveler act as either orderlies or guards at night. Remorino shows Horacio and Traveler the basement, where dead bodies are kept and cold beer can be had.
One night Horacio is smoking in his room when he sees Talita crossing the moonlit garden below, apparently heading to bed. A moment later, he thinks he sees La Maga appear and begin a game of hopscotch in the same general area; but when she looks up at him, he realizes it is Talita, who had turned and recrossed the garden.
One of the mental patients is inside. After sending the man back to his room, Horacio and Talita decide to go down, ostensibly to see what he was up to. Alone with Talita and the dead bodies, Horacio finds himself talking to her not as if she reminded him of La Maga, but as if she were La Maga.
Returning to her room, Talita tells Traveler about it, who surmises that something may be seriously wrong with his friend. Meanwhile, having retreated to his own room, Horacio is now convinced that Traveler is coming to kill him.
He begins to construct a kind of defense line in the dark room that is intended to confuse and irritate an attack, rather than deter it: water-filled basins placed on the floor, for example, as well as threads tied to heavy objects which are in turn tied to the doorknob. Horacio then sits in the dark on the opposite side of the room, near the window, waiting to see what will happen. The hours pass slowly and painfully, but finally Traveler does try to come in, and the tumult that results brings Dr.
Ovejero and the others out into the garden, where they find Oliveira leaning out the window of his room as if intending to let himself fall. Only by proceeding to read the "Expendable Chapters" will the reader be able to place Horacio firmly back inside mental institution, where, after being sedated by Ovejero, he succumbs to a lengthy delirium.
The "Expendable Chapters"[ edit ] The third section of the book, under the heading "From Diverse Sides", does not need to be read in order to understand the plot, but it does contain solutions to certain puzzles that arise during the perusal of the first two parts.
For example, the reader finds out a great deal more about the mysterious Morelli, as well as finding out how La Maga and Emmanuele first became acquainted. The inner workings of Horacio Oliveira himself are described in a much less evasive manner than in any previous chapters, as well.
The section, and the book, ends with Horacio visiting Morelli in the hospital, who asks him to go to his apartment and organize his notebooks while he is away. Most of these notebooks are unpublished and Oliveira not only considers doing this work as a great honor to himself personally, but also as perhaps the best chance yet of his attaining the ninth square in his lifelong game of spiritual, emotional, and metaphysical hopscotch.
Characters[ edit ] The main character, Horacio Oliveira, is a well-read and loquacious bohemian. He enjoys a mostly intellectual participation in life instead of pursuing an active role[ clarification needed ] and appears to be obsessed with attaining what is referred to as a unifying conception of life, or center in which he can contentedly exist.
She eventually develops into an indispensable muse for Horacio and a lens he employs to examine himself and the world in a more three dimensional manner. When Horacio returns to Argentina he is greeted by his old friend Manolo, nicknamed "Traveler", and his wife, Talita. The two are employed at a circus and seem to enjoy a mostly serene existence. Main themes[ edit ] Order vs. The novel also attempts to resemble order while ultimately consisting of chaos. It possesses a beginning and an end but traveling from one to the other seems to be a random process.
The same idea is perfectly expressed in improvisational jazz. Over several measures, melodies are randomly constructed by following loose musical rules. Horacio vs. He is always isolated: When he is with La Maga, he cannot relate to her; when he is with the Club, he is superior; when he is with Traveler and Talita, he fights their way of life.
Even when with Morelli, the character he relates to most, there exists the social barriers of patient and orderly. The conundrum of consciousness[ edit ] One of the biggest arguments between Horacio and Ossip, one that threatens to put a rift in the club, is what Horacio deems "the conundrum of consciousness" Does art prove consciousness?
Or is it simply a continuation of instinctual leanings toward the collective brain? Talita argues a similar point in her seesaw-questions game with Horacio, who believes that only when one lives in the abstract and lets go of biological history can one achieve consciousness. But none of these people are considered by outward society to be failures. They are stuck where they are because of their own self-defeating attitudes. Short chapters also express the idea that there is no penetrating purpose to the novel and life in general.
For Horacio, life is a series of artistic flashes by which he perceives the world in profound ways but still remains unable to create anything of value. Other major themes include obsession, madness, life-as-a-circus, the nature and meaning of sex, and self-knowledge.
In a story in which prevailing theme is that of perception versus reality and ambiguous relationship between truth and fact, the narrator draws attention to the fact that he is writing a story and then takes this to the next level by first introducing the main character—a photographer--and then becoming him. The literary POV shifts between first and third person servicing a plot in which a moment frozen in time captured on film comes to suggest infinite possibilities of truth rather than finalizing a single explanation as might be expected. The Pursuer Cortazar here experiments with verb tense rather than pronouns to replicate the confusion of its main character getting a firm handle on time. That main character is a Bebop jazz musician inspired by Charlie Parker as drugs and mental disturbances mark the end of his career as life.
Julio Cortazar: Short Stories Summary
Some of the "expendable" chapters at first seem like random musings, but upon closer inspection solve questions that arise during the reading of the first two parts of the book. Several narrative techniques are employed throughout the book, and frequently overlap, including first person, third person, and a kind of stream-of-consciousness. Traditional spelling and grammatical rules are often bent and sometimes broken outright. Plot chapters 1—36 [ edit ] The first 36 chapters of the novel in numerical order are grouped under the heading "From the Other Side. He experiences life in Paris in the s. The other characters consist of La Maga and a band of bohemian intellectuals who call themselves the Serpent Club. The story opens with Horacio searching the bridges of Paris for La Maga, who has disappeared.
Blow-Up and Other Stories
The home in Banfield, with its back yard, was a source of inspiration for some of his stories. He would later pursue higher education in philosophy and languages at the University of Buenos Aires , but left for financial reasons without receiving a degree. In , using the pseudonym of Julio Denis, he self-published a volume of sonnets , Presencia,  which he later repudiated, saying in a interview for Spanish television that publishing it was his only transgression to the principle of not publishing any books until he was convinced that what was written in them was what he meant to say. He wrote most of his major works in Paris or in Saignon in the south of France, where he also maintained a home. He later married Canadian writer Carol Dunlop.