Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

In this story, as in many of her other works, Luisa Valenzuela expresses her interest in women’s relationship to language, myths, rituals, and nature. Searching is a basic theme in Valenzuela’s writings. The protagonist in “Up Among the Eagles” is the narrator herself. Unnamed—reflecting her universality and lack of connections to anyone—she undertakes a symbolic journey out of the abyss of a valley and up to the peaks where the eagles dwell. She travels back in time through a natural world that she does not understand well until the end, when, in a brilliantly lit scene—signifying inner enlightenment and self-awareness at the moment of a literal or symbolic death—she is finally empowered to see and understand the mythical world around her.

The narrator, a city woman, arrives in the archaic country town wearing shoes and carrying a watch and a camera, among other things—all items of the modern world. Her relationship to nature may lead to an analysis of the meaning of civilization and barbarism. Representing modern society, she associates time with progress. She is unable to comprehend the functioning of a language that is only insinuated and not verbalized and thinks of the native culture and villagers as strange because they are different.

Although the protagonist is focused on external reality and the preservation of her physical self, the villagers concentrate on the inner reality and the creation of mental images that they materialize...

(The entire section is 605 words.)