Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Because Frank Tuohy taught in Finland, Poland, Brazil, Japan, and the United States, his stories and novels frequently contrasted cultures and examined how social, sexual, and cultural distinctions alienate people from one another. Tuohy’s characters who attempt to embody two cultures at once are seen as absurd for doing so. Fernando Ferreira is “the traveling salesperson of a progressive North-Americanized civilization” yet is “full of Latin prejudices, without having any idea they made nonsense of his smart Americanism.” The humorless, unimaginative Fernando judges the Europeans he encounters as types rather than individuals: “He accepted every remark one made as a representative national judgment.” Seeing himself as a sophisticated man in a primitive land, Fernando devotes himself to “preserving the formalities” of civilization but is bewildered by the Woroszylskis because they, as Europeans, should be at least as civilized as he but seem much less so. Barbara, as usual, is oblivious to the possibility of any superiority on the part of the Ferreiras and acts like one who considers “it her right to intrude into the houses of her inferiors,” thereby lowering their opinion of her even further.

Stefan is perhaps more at home in South America than Fernando because he refuses to acknowledge the distinctions observed by his wife, the Ferreiras, and even the Bar Metro prostitutes. He is “perpetually the peasant arriving in the great...

(The entire section is 574 words.)