Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
Although Betrayed by Rita Hayworth does not resemble a traditional novel in form, its subject matter is highly conventional: the maturation and education of a sensitive young man. Because this is Puig’s first novel, and because he shares the birth date of his protagonist, most readers suspect that Betrayed by Rita Hayworth is autobiographical to some degree. The novel reveals the world of young José Casals, nicknamed Toto, by exploring not only his fantasies and daydreams but also those of his parents, aunts, cousins, schoolmates, and teachers. Through this sometimes indirect method, the reader absorbs the multitude of influences that shape Toto’s life. At the same time, Puig delineates the spectrum of provincial life in Argentina, providing insight into such facets of that culture as the meaning of machismo, the importance attached to education, and the pervasive influence of romantic fiction and Hollywood films.
Most of the novel’s sixteen chapters are internal monologues of the major and minor characters. A few chapters are made up of dialogues (consisting mostly of revealing gossip) between female characters; the novel also includes excerpts from diaries, two letters, and a school essay by Toto on the topic, “The Movie I Liked Best.”
A minimal plot emerges from this collage of material, although it may be difficult to discern on a first reading. Toto’s mother, Mita, marries Berto even though he has less...
(The entire section is 898 words.)
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