(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Dona Elena’s complaint regarding the conduct of her daughter, Elena, the previous Sunday (she defended the idea that a woman can live with two men) causes Victor, an architect, to recall the night that he and Elena, his wife, saw the film Jules and Jim (1962). That night over dinner, as he recalls, they discussed the film and Elena arrived at certain conclusions—for example, that misogyny is the condition of love, that one day Victor would want another man to share their lives, and that she wanted an outfit like the one worn by Jeanne Moreau in the film. As he pondered the likelihood of the second proposition, he watched Elena among their men friends, imagining how each of them would supplement what he himself might be incapable of offering her. Later, they walked home through cobblestone streets (“a meeting ground for their common inclinations toward assimilation”) and made love to the music of Brother Lateef.

At Sunday dinner with her parents, Elena and her father begin to argue about blacks when Dona Elena saves the day by changing the subject to her own activities during the past week. While she speaks, Victor observes her gestures and appearance, especially her caressing fingers, slim wrist, full arms, and taut breasts. After dinner, Don Jose excuses himself to reminisce over some old boleros. In another room, Elena falls asleep on her husband’s lap while he and his mother-in-law carry on a conversation about Veracruz, which is in fact a description of the fundamental difference between the two Elenas: their origins and, consequently, their attitudes.

The following morning, Victor prepares to leave for work, and Elena outlines her schedule for that day, which includes a film, a class, some appointments, readings, and other activities, and mentions some plans for later on that week. On the way to work, Victor attempts to sort out that barrage of information, wondering if perhaps a vacation might not bring their lives closer together again. Suddenly, he finds himself steering his car not in the direction of his work, but toward Lomas, the house of Elena’s parents, where his other Elena awaits him.