Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Fuentes is a member of the group of Latin American writers known as Magical Realists, who blur the boundaries between reality and fantasy. He, however, calls his own writing technique “symbolic realism,” which conflates other traditional categories: fiction and history, present and past, natural and supernatural. The narrative is fragmented, rather than strictly linear, and the present and past are jumbled together in the story, showing Fuentes’s notion of time as cyclical rather than linear.

The narrator is cut off from his own past, which ultimately cuts him off from himself. His cultural allegiance is international, rather than Mexican, as shown by the foreign books he has read; he has embraced rationality and modernity rather than the irrational, mythical elements of his past, represented by Amilamia. He realizes that his life lacks something, but he is unwilling or unable to risk plunging into direct experience, preferring to remain an observer. As with many Fuentes stories, “The Doll Queen” undermines the surface order of the narration, showing the disorder beneath and implying that embracing the disorder is better than leading a sterile life without passion.

The two main characters, Carlos and Amilamia, can be seen as alter egos, two sides of the same person. Carlos is the rational, orderly, European modern ego; Amilamia is the primitive, intuitive, emotional, Indian primitive id. When he rejects her, he actually is rejecting a part of himself. Amilamia is misshapen and grotesque, emblematic of the distortion and destruction caused when one tries to suppress the primal forces within everyone and within everyone’s cultural past. Significantly, the narrator’s given name is the same as the author’s, and the name is mentioned only once, when Amilamia calls it out at the end of the story. Only Amilamia has the power to name him, and he rejects her.