Style and Technique

Told in twelve fragments, the story is discursive, and it mentions many names of family members only in an offhand way—as if the reader already knows who the characters are. Many times, a character tells a story about a past event that relates thematically to present events but does not advance the plot. Fernández, in short, breaks many of the conventions of how short stories ought to be told. She has excellent reasons for doing so. On a first reading of the story, a reader eager to learn what happens to Verónica may not notice the story’s intricacy. It is told in the first person, not in Verónica’s voice but in that of one who knew her. What the reader learns about Verónica is what Nenita learns about her. Verónica’s story is too much for a typically constructed short story to contain. More than the frame that Nenita provides, it needs a box: the family, the family’s stories, the room in which she is displayed, the room in which she convalesces, and the houses in which she is watched. If Fernández had written her short story in a more conventional way, it would not be art but rather a tract or a soap opera. The story’s subtleties of narration reward those who reread it.