Mario is, despite the title, the principal focus of interest in the novel, which covers a brief period in his life and examines the widely different effects that both Julia and the scriptwriter have upon him. This novel of the education of a young man focuses not only upon his sensations and ideas but also upon his improbable actions and their sometimes hilarious consequences for him. Although several of the minor characters, chiefly his relatives and his companions at the radio station, do, in fact, have their own existences and concerns, one sees them predominantly through Mario’s eyes and in relation to his own growth, concerns, and aspirations. In his painstaking characterization of his friends and relatives and in his precise details of the urban geography of Lima, Mario the narrator consistently views his environment personally, in relation to his sense of it and its meaning for him. In this sense, he is as much “the scriptwriter” of his own life, times, and place as Pedro Camacho is the scriptwriter of dozens of domestic and civil tragedies and melodramas of his contemporary Lima. Further, both Camacho and Mario are the creations of Mario the novelist.
As the young Mario makes his way through these few weeks and months of this extraordinary period in his life, he examines his journalistic apprenticeship at Radio Panamerica and the disparate writing assignments that he undertakes to help support Julia and himself as prologues to his Stephen Dedalus-like flight to the...
(The entire section is 612 words.)