Study Guide

The Green House

by Mario Vargas Llosa

The Green House Essay - Critical Essays

Critical Evaluation

The Green House is a multilayered work filled with overlapping dreams and memories that bring to mind William Faulkner’s belief that the past remains in the present. The action in the novel occurs over a forty-year span during which there is an allusion to World War II. The structure, however, is not linear. Present, past, and dreamworlds intermingle, changing time and place, leaving the reader uncertain about some actions.

This discontinuous structure is Mario Vargas Llosa’s attempt to present the separate worlds of each character as a combined whole, or totality. The seeming lack of structure prevents the omniscience that is often granted to a reader of a conventionally structured story. The purpose of this blending of past, present, and different points of view is to underscore the relative nature of reality. Just as one cannot know all the details and effects of causes, or situations, in life, one cannot know these things in The Green House.

The connective bonds in the novel are the five lines of narrative that tell the stories of Bonifacia, Fushía, Don Anselmo, Jum, and the slum. The story lines are presented in a predictable order within each chapter, creating a circular structure. Common to all of Vargas Llosa’s novels is the idea that there are no “closed and autocratic orders” in society. In The Green House, for example, Don Julio Reátegui, governor of Santa Maria de Nieva, is a smuggler who abuses the Indians and his employees while at the same time...

(The entire section is 624 words.)