Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Julio Cortázar is best known for his story “Las babas del diablo” (“Blow-Up), on which Michelangelo Antonioni based his popular film. In fact, the collection of stories in which “End of the Game” first appeared in English carried the title End of the Game, and Other Stories (1963) and then, after the success of the film, was reissued in paperback in 1967 as Blow-Up, and Other Stories. “Blow-Up” is more typical of the kind of story that has made Cortázar a popular writer than is “End of the Game,” which is more subtle in its blend of fantasy and reality. However, the fact that the collection in English was first published with “End of the Game” as the title story indicates that Cortázar considered it to be of particular significance.

Cortázar creates his story through the elaboration of the familiar theme of the conflict of fantasy and reality. The three girls engaged in a game that consists of playacting invent a character, Ariel, based on the very limited knowledge that they have of the real person whose face they have seen on the passing train. When the fantastic game becomes real through the confrontation of Ariel, the narrator, and Holanda, the conflict between the fantastic and the phenomenological destroys the invented reality.

Cortázar elaborates the theme of fantasy and reality in such a way that “End of the Game” becomes representative of the ideology evident in all of his...

(The entire section is 486 words.)