Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 540
When the narrator sets out to tell his story, he takes several pages to get underway, meanwhile looking out the window from his apartment. He wonders whether the story should be told at all, and then if he specifically should tell it. He also alerts the reader to questions of identity and truth that will develop further through the course of the story.
I know the most difficult thing is going to be finding a way to tell it, and I’m not afraid of repeating myself. It’s going to be difficult because nobody really knows who it is telling it, if I am I or what actually occurred or what I’m seeing (clouds, or once in a while a pigeon) or if, simply, I’m telling a truth which is only my truth . . .
When he finally commits to the telling, he begins an alternation of person in the narrative, switching from first person to referring to “Roberto Michel” in the third person—raising another question, whether this character is actually the same as the narrator—and then back again to first person, often mid-paragraph. Just after he describes the moment he first notices the boy and the woman, he reflects on his approach to photographs.
I think that I know how to look, if it’s something I know, and also that every looking oozes with mendacity, because it’s that which expels us further outside ourselves, without the least guarantee, whereas to smell or (but Michel rambles on to himself easily enough, there's no need to let him harangue on this way).
As the scene between the boy and the woman continues, increasingly seeming to have a sexual element, the narrator continues to wonder about his own presence and its effect on the scene. After he takes the photo, is noticed by the woman, and refuses her demand to hand over the film, he returns to his apartment.
Contemplating the blow-up he makes of the image, he first congratulates himself on having helped the boy escape from a difficult situation. But the photo soon takes on a life of its own. First the woman, then the boy and the man in the car, begin to move of their own volition. Michel watches them, transfixed and horrified:
All at once the order was inverted, they were alive, moving, they were deciding and had decided, they were going to their future; and I on this side, prisoner of another time, in a room on the fifth floor, to not know who they were, that woman, that man, and that boy, to be only the lens of my camera, something fixed, rigid, incapable of intervention. It was horrible, their mocking me, deciding it against my impotent eye . . .
Michel manages to interject himself into the action, once again enabling the boy’s escape, but the effort overwhelms him and he shuts his eyes and bursts into tears “like an idiot.” Finally he is doing nothing more than look out the window at the changing formations of clouds, sometimes a clear sky, and other times rain:
suddenly the splotches of rain cracking down, for a long spell you can see it raining over the picture, like a spell of weeping reversed . . .