Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

This story is structured as a series of episodes, each depicting successive evenings in Pendleton’s restaurant. With each successive evening, more is revealed about not only Damaso but also the evolving response of Pendleton as he becomes more intrigued with the man. The story does not build to a conventional dramatic turning point but instead turns on the rather anticlimactic disappearance of Damaso. Connell’s purpose is not to solve the mystery of the fisherman from Chihuahua but to retain his mystery while at the same time developing in the reader a greater sense of compassion and understanding of Pendleton’s situation.

Connell intentionally keeps the character of Damaso at a distance, so that he remains a mystery. Because it is important to maintain a separation between the ordinary world of Pendleton and the extraordinary world of Damaso, Connell uses the figure of the Toltec as a bridge between the two men. He is used structurally as an intermediary because Pendleton never speaks directly to Damaso, and Damaso never speaks to him. If the Toltec is closest to Damaso, the figures who are farthest away are the Iowa couple; their comic presence is a contrast to the uncanny fisherman and ironically deepens the seriousness of Damaso’s story.

Yet another significant aspect of this story’s narrative is the use of the sea as both image and symbol. Pendleton’s growing awareness of the sea suggests possible ways in which the meaning of...

(The entire section is 413 words.)