One of the most interesting things about the first out-of-the-ordinary event that occurs in Julio Cortázar’s story is its lack of precision. Two siblings live in the house that is gradually occupied by a powerful force; the brother is the unnamed, first-person narrator, so the reader learns from him about the events and his and his sister’s reactions to them.
The narrator tells us that he notices a sound that is soft and unusual, but he is not sure what it is. Nevertheless, his memory of the moment it occurred to him is sharp because it struck him as atypical but also occurred very “simply and without fuss.” On his way to the kitchen to boil water for tea, he heard a noise that was coming from the library or the dining room.
The sound came through muted and indistinct, a chair being knocked over onto the carpet or the muffled buzzing or a conversation.
The sound was quickly repeated “at the end of the passage which led from those two rooms toward the door.” What strikes the reader as surprising, however, is the brother’s reaction: he throws himself against the door and shuts it, locks it with a key, and throws the bolt to secure it. He does not try to find out who or what is causing the strange noise.