The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

It is in section 62 of Cortázar’s Rayuela (1963; Hopscotch, 1966) that the basic components of 62: A Model Kit are to be found. Morelli, a character in Hopscotch, is working on a book in which the actors “would appear unhealthy or complete idiots.” He adds that “any standard behavior (including the most unusual, its deluxe category) would be inexplicable by means of current instrumental psychology.” In the introduction to 62: A Model Kit, Cortázar warns the reader about the various transgressions in the novel at the level of the characters or the plot. The former, it is true, behave in a very bizarre manner: They are childlike, unpredictable, or caught in a web of thought that laboriously seeks for answers which are never given. They have no complete names, they have no background or history other than the one that involves them in the zone, their common territory. Cortázar has thus stripped from his characters the traits which traditionally enhance development in a realistic manner.

In certain cases, it is possible to establish a few associations. Juan, for example, who works (perhaps) for the United Nations, brings to mind Cortázar himself. Some characters in Hopscotch find their parallels in this novel. Juan’s main intellectual ruminations are similar to Oliveira’s; Hélène, the loner of the group, in her serious and ordered life mirrors Pola; Tell, innocent and unreflective,...

(The entire section is 526 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Juan, an Argentine interpreter who works for an international agency. He has a humorous and unprejudiced character and an almost surrealist vision of the world, which he shares with most of the characters, all of whom are among a group of friends who meet habitually in the café Cluny. Juan is interested in metaphysical matters, especially in the ways in which reality is perceived. He has much imagination and looks for secret keys or symbols to understand the universe or what happens to him. He shares the keys, the dreams, and the imaginary realms (“the city,” “the zone”) with his friends. He usually travels with his partner, Tell, but he is desperately in love with Hélène. During his stay in Vienna, as he works at an international conference and shares his life with Tell, he is obsessed with the story of a bloody countess, the Basilisk House, and an old and disgusting woman, Frau Marta, who vampirizes an English girl who is touring Vienna. Always mixing fantasies with real life, he tries to save the English girl from an imaginary danger. Everything becomes a metaphor of his relationship with Hélène. Back in Paris, he has an intense encounter with Hélène but is unable to keep her after she tells her story of a dead patient who resembled Juan and her affair with Celia. He desperately intends to reach her and to follow her, but he loses her in a scene in which dreams and symbols are mixed and become real.


Hélène, a young French anesthetist, aloof and distant but a sensible and tender person. Unlike Juan, she is unable to share everything with her friends in the Cluny. She is touched when a young man, almost a boy, with a close resemblance to Juan dies without awakening from anesthesia. She leaves the hospital very disturbed, goes to the Cluny, and meets Celia, who has just run away from her parents’ home. She invites Celia to her small apartment and, that night, having no control of her feelings and senses, forces Celia to make love with her. After this disturbing experience, she has a sexual encounter with Juan, but she cannot forgive herself for the disgraceful incident of the night spent with Celia.


Marrast, a French...

(The entire section is 916 words.)