Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
The principal action of Manhunt, a short novel which takes place during the span of one night in Havana, recounts the unnamed protagonist’s flight from his former political comrades, who are trying to murder him for having turned informer. The protagonist, the typical “young man from the provinces,” has come to the capital to pursue his studies at the university. Once in Havana, he takes up residence in a boardinghouse owned by an old black woman who had been his wet nurse. Shortly after his arrival in the city, he joins the Communist Party but is soon disenchanted with it and opts instead for direct political action in the form of terrorist acts against various government officials. These acts include one murder for which he is directly responsible and involvement in a second. As a result of his terrorist activities, he is arrested; terrified by the threat of castration, he “sings” and is released back into the streets. Most of these events, however, are narrated in the form of flashbacks, for when the novel begins the protagonist is already in the streets, fleeing from his pursuers. His pursuers finally catch up with him at a concert hall where a symphonic orchestra has just finished performing Ludwig van Beethoven’s Eroica symphony. In ironic counterpoint to Beethoven’s work, the unnamed protagonist dies an unheroic death when he is murdered while hiding in a balcony seat. The incongruity of his death is enhanced by the fact that it...
(The entire section is 403 words.)
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