Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
Death in the Andes is divided into two parts, of five and four chapters respectively, and an epilogue. Each chapter is further divided into three sections that narrate different parts of the story. The novel is based in part on observations Vargas Llosa made while serving as leader of a 1983 Peruvian government commission investigating the massacre of eight journalists in a remote Andean mountain village.
Vargas Llosa is represented by the fictional character of Corporal Lituma, a native of Piura, a major city in the northwestern coastal valley of Peru. He is sent by army officials to Naccos, a village high in the Andean mountains of southeastern Peru. Since most of the Indian population of the area speaks only Quechua and not Spanish, he must rely on his deputy Tomás Carreño, a native of the region, to interpret for him as he investigates the disappearance of three men.
The communities surrounding Naccos have been the sites of continuous terrorist activities by the Sendero Luminoso, or “Shining Path,” the Communist Party of Peru. To illustrate the brutality and dogmatic mindlessness of the Senderos, there are several independent accounts in which the author tells how, for example, a young French tourist couple and a team of humanitarian ecologists are mercilessly stoned to death for no reason other than that they are outsiders. Since the three men who have disappeared could also be considered outsiders—one is a mute who works...
(The entire section is 1077 words.)
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