Thursday, December 08, 2005

li essay

Robby Cushing

Lit Essay-

When you read the mystical tale Coyote, by Juan Villoro, you would never notice it’s subtle similarities to the writings of Garcia Marquez. The best way to explore the differences and similarities of these two great author’s literary styles and themes is by showing them side by side. The story by Juan Villoro, Coyote, is about a mystical passage of a man who has consumed Peyote buttons and separated from his company. His trek through the desert teaches him a lesson about who he is. The other story, Balthazar’s Marvelous Afternoon, tells the tale of a man who makes a beautiful birdcage, and the interactions between the people of the town and Balthazar. Balthazar’s Marvelous Afternoon and Coyote share the thematic storytelling concept of one object representing another.
In Coyote, the author uses juxtaposition to show the similarities in nature, and this reoccurring theme is what shows the author’s dexterity and command of story telling elements. The theme of juxtaposition has the largest influence on the coyote he faces on his quest and the cactus he tears open for sustenance. “he slid the knife in forcefully, and slit open the three-legged animal” is nearly identical to when he slits open the plant to eat. Another reference to the coyote was when he cut open the coyote and “felt an indescribable relief when he plunged his hands into that soft, wet substance” is almost identical text to when he cut open the aloe vera plant and puts the insides on his wounds.

In Balthazar’s Marvelous Afternoon, the author shows that he has equal talent and knowledge of story elements. However, he uses different literary styles such as describing characters with similar traits or qualities, as shown in the following quote in which two characters with similar qualities are described differently to show their personality. He describes the good doctor as “smoothly and delicately fat, like a woman who had been beautiful in her youth”, and then describes Jose Montiel as “obese and hairy” The author also has the birdcage represent the confinements of poverty, and Pepe’s relationship with his controlling family. It also helps the author show how this novel shows the interactions between different socio-economic classes.
The thematic storytelling concept shared by both authors is the idea of one object representing another, and as actions are preformed on one object, the linked object faces similar actions. The tone in either story is very different, but both follow a man traveling and interacting with the environment. In Coyote, the tone and subject matter are dark, but have an unreal, ethereal feel to them, with deja vu. In Balthazar’s Marvelous Afternoon, the tone is very to the point, and tells the story from the stance of a narrator who tells the story as it visually appears and uses the subtle variations in description of a common trait.
Even though they use these different forms of representing characters, they still share the basic concept of representation, and the plots follow a typical path. But the differences still outweigh the similarities, and the bottom line is that these two works are unique and have a great grasp of literary terms. At times the use of themes and representation even manage dwarf the plot, and give a real sense of not knowing exactly what is really going on, but still liking it all the way.

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