The ambiguity-creating functions of Cortázar's narrative technique in his stories La Noche boca arriba and La Puerta condenada

Melnikova, Victoria V, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Shaw, Donald L., DepartmDepartment of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Pellon, Gustavo, Department for Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia

One of the distinguishing features of Cortázar's fiction that contributes to the striking impression produced by his works on the reader, is the ambiguity of the narrative. This ambiguity may stem, for instance, from the interplay between different levels of reality, the rejection of the traditional, chronological manner of describing events and expressing ideas, the unconventional treatment of spacio-temporal and cause and effect relations, or the fusion between the real and the fantastic. Cortázar himself, renouncing the old-style short story technique, postulated in "Algunos aspectos del cuento":

Casi todos los cuentos que he escrito pertenecen al
género llamado fantástico por falta de mejor nombre,
y se oponen a este falso realismo, [...] dentro de un
mundo regido más o menos armoniósamente por un
sistema de leyes, de principios, de relaciones de
causa a efecto, de psicologías definidas, de
geografías bien cartografiadas.

The purpose of this approach is to undermine our simplistic, convenient constructs of the world and introduce us to a much broader and more disturbing reality.

A glance at the existing criticism of Cortázar's short stories reveals that much has been written about the originality of his style, the revolution that his works made in 20th-century Latin American literature, and consequently his role in the Boom. However, the primary goal of the critics seems to have been, for the most part, to interpret the contents of the stories and determine what their themes are. At the same time, there exists a fairly small number of articles dealing with the structural aspect of Cortázar's works. Nevertheless, it is the way a particular story is organized that makes it possible for the author to get the message across.

What follows is an attempt to analyze two of Cortázar's stories, La noche boca arriba and La puerta condenada, which possess an element of ambiguity, from the viewpoint of the narrative strategy applied by the writer, and to see how the latter functions in conveying the idea of the stories.

MA (Master of Arts)

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-03-14 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:35:13.

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