Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The narrative style of Cortázar is distinctive primarily because of its clarity and directness. Although many details of the story are unclear in “End of the Game,” as in any Cortázar story, that uncertainty is the result not of the language but of the narrative perspective. As in most of Cortázar’s stories, the narrator is a character in the story, and the narrator does not understand the significance of what is happening. Certain details are not clarified, such as the relationship of the three girls or the contents of the letter that Letitia writes to Ariel, primarily because the narrator is not omniscient and does not have the narrative awareness of an objective storyteller.

Through the use of the first-person narrator, Cortázar is able to create a tension between the events as they appear to the character and the perception of the events by the objective reader. The narrator’s version of the story is a reflection of her involvement in the struggle to free herself from adult restrictions and express her individuality. In the first part of the narrative, the narrator concentrates on the girls’ attempts to destroy the control that the mother and the aunt have over them in the household. As the story progresses, the narrator becomes less concerned with the events in the home and more involved in the impending event—the extraordinary confrontation with Ariel, who represents the liberation from the strictures of childhood. Through this changing attitude of the narrator, the reader perceives that the game of Statues and Attitudes has become symbolic of the process of children growing up. The game playing typical of childhood is transformed into the ritualistic game playing characteristic of the adult world.