Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
The narrator, a celebrated Latin American cultural figure—he shares with Julio Cortázar the honor of having written the short story “Las babas del diablo” (“Blow-Up”)—recounts a journey that he has made to Central America. On arriving in Costa Rica, he is met by several friends who are important members of the Sandinista movement, some of whom escort him to the island of Solentiname, off the coast of Nicaragua. During his visit, one of the purposes of which is to demonstrate solidarity with the Sandinistas in their protracted armed struggle against the Somoza dictatorship, he notices some naïve paintings done by the humble inhabitants of Solentiname. Struck by their unashamed innocence and enthusiasm, he photographs the paintings as souvenirs. After several intermediate stops, he returns to his home in Paris, where his life resumes its normally hectic rhythm. One day, when he recalls having left the roll of film to be developed, he retrieves it and settles down for a comfortable and nostalgic viewing.
Approximately halfway through the roll of slides, however, just when the pleasantly ingenuous pictures should appear, the narrator is dismayed to witness projected scenes of unspeakable violence and cruelty: Soldiers murder peasant children in cold blood, cadavers are piled in tall mounds, women are tortured and raped. The arrival of his companion Claudine coincides with the end of the brutal spectacle. Too upset to speak, the narrator reloads...
(The entire section is 341 words.)
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