Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Cortázar’s writing generally sorts itself into one of two categories: the fantastic-mythical, as characterized by many of his early stories in such collections as Final del juego (1956; End of the Game, and Other Stories, 1963) and Todos los fuegos el fuego (1966; All Fires the Fire, 1973), or the political-historical, best seen in his novel Libro de Manuel (1973; A Manual for Manuel, 1978). “Apocalypse at Solentiname,” which first appeared in Alguien que anda por ahi (1977), constitutes an extraordinary synthesis of these two major tendencies within one brief tale. The ascending portion of the narrative is uniformly in the historical mode. Easily recognized and politically significant names (Sergio Ramirez, Ernesto Cardenal, and Roque Dalton) and places (San Jose, Solentiname, and Havana) inform the reader of the theater and the principal actors in this highly charged ideological drama. The narrator’s deep affection for the Sandinista leaders and his admiration for the unpretentious artwork of the common folk of Solentiname create reader sympathy for the insurgents’ cause (in 1976, when the story was composed, the Somoza regime still held absolute power in Nicaragua). Fantasy would appear to have no place in this palpable and contemporary conflict.

Only when the narrator attempts to relive his trip does an irrational element enter. No logical explanation for the intrusion of the...

(The entire section is 556 words.)