Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
He Who Searches opens with a brief scene in which a man is interrogated and raped with the butt of a gun. This scene ends abruptly, and the novel’s first part, entitled “Discovery,” begins. The psychoanalyst describes his patient, and the narrative introduces his unusual method of treatment, which includes appearing at her house in various disguises, from postman to transvestite, and having a sexual relationship with her. Their relationship embraces a variety of fantasies, including one in which he is an insurance man. Valenzuela ironically includes in this section questions such as “Against what can she be trying to protect herself?” The reader knows that there is no insurance for a revolutionary in exile. Eventually, the psychoanalyst’s wife discovers the affair that her husband is having with his patient.
In the second part, “The Loss,” the psychoanalyst spends time with his wife but longs for his patient, who has disappeared. While reading a story in the newspaper about a banderillero in a barroom brawl, he recognizes his patient in an accompanying photograph. He believes that “a trickle of blood” will lead him to her.
In the third part, “The Journey,” the psychoanalyst arrives in Mexico, where he participates in a purification ritual and is guided by Nahuatl-speaking Indian women through the mountains. He meets a woman named Maria Sabina, who gives him sacred mushrooms. This passage recalls the Cave of...
(The entire section is 470 words.)
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