Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 474
Man hunts and struggles
Woman intrigues and dreams;
she is the mother of fantasy,
the mother of the gods . . .
The above quote is taken from a poem at the beginning of the short story. It highlights major themes within the story: feminine virility and transcendence over the masculine, as well as the link between beauty and enchantment.
In the story, Consuelo uses occult rituals to create Aura, an incarnation of her younger self. She is only able to retain Aura's presence for three days at a time. However, this doesn't stop Consuelo from engaging in elaborate and exhausting machinations to preserve her own fantasies.
The gods are like men
They are born and they die
on a woman's breast . . .
Again, this quote originates from the poem at the beginning of the story. It highlights another theme: the intertwining of the masculine and the feminine. Intrinsically, men may dominate in acts of physical strength, but their destiny is unequivocally linked to the feminine.
In the story, Consuelo creates Aura to recapitulate her youthful beauty and vigor. Despite Felipe's resolve to free Aura from what he thinks is her captivity under Consuelo, he finds himself caught in the web of the older woman's occult dream-reality.
You look into them and tell yourself it isn't true, because they're beautiful green eyes, just like all the beautiful green eyes you've ever known. But you can't deceive yourself: those eyes do surge, do change, as if offering you a landscape that only you can see and desire.
Felipe is captivated by Aura's beauty and wants to save her from Consuelo's mysterious power. What he doesn't realize is that Aura is a trans-figurative figure, created to exist in the realms of a dream reality.
For his part, however, Felipe's masculine nature rebels at the thought of Aura's seeming defenselessness, and he resolves to save her.
He is surprised when he does discover that his fate is intertwined with that of Consuelo's alter ego. It is only when he transforms into Colonel Llorente that he realizes his own powerlessness in divesting himself of Consuelo's influence. Instead of freeing Aura, Felipe becomes entrapped in a landscape tailored to epitomize all that he sees and desires. In luring Felipe through her created alter ego (Aura), Consuelo manages to hold him captive to her vision of life.
Old ladies have nothing left but . . . the pleasures of devotion . . .
In this quote, Consuelo explains why she indulges in her obscure rituals of renewal and religious ecstasy. Felipe does not realize that Consuelo sees them as a means of reclaiming her lost youth and beauty. Later in the story, we learn that General Llorente tried to warn his wife about indulging in the dangerous illusion of recapitulating her youth. However, she remained adamant that she could invoke power over her creation and sustain it with trans-figurative rituals.