Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Isabel Allende is a master storyteller, and “Wicked Girl” illustrates her narrative abilities well. She uses an especially interesting technique, very long paragraphs that relate many events. Some cover almost two pages. All include imagery enhancing the emotions that arise from the events.

The plot begins immediately with a brief description of Elena, followed by the foreshadowing statement, “Nothing about her betrayed her torrid dreams, nor presaged the sensuous creature she would become.” At the beginning of the second paragraph, Bernal enters and things move steadily along, as Allende chronicles Elena’s growing obsession with Bernal. Dialogue appears only once, in the key scene in which Bernal realizes that it is Elena, not her mother, making love to him.

Images add to the sensuality of the plot. Flowers appear frequently. Before Bernal sparks the passion in the two women, the geraniums are dusty and give off no fragrance. As their passion for him unfolds, making women out of both of them, the sensations become stronger. Elena’s mother wears perfume. On the Sunday evening Bernal plays his guitar and her mother dances erotically, it is hot and the scent of flowers hangs heavily in the air. The sensuous details build as Elena notices all the smells in his room when she lies on his bed, absorbing his presence with all of her senses. On the day that Elena comes to him, it is white-hot in midday.

The details are different in the last two pages, which cover the aftermath of her sexual encounter. Allende covers these events in a cool, factual style. Bernal hopes to rekindle Elena’s desire on the patio where the scent of carnations hangs in the air, but the last encounter between Elena and Bernal takes place in the cool kitchen. The story ends with a twist of irony, bringing the narrative to a direct closure in the very last sentence: “She could not remember any particular Thursday in her past.”