Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Paris. Capital of France in which the members of the Desnoyers family settle after vacating their inherited fortune from the late gaucho grandfather. Don Marcelo and his family establish their residence in avenue Victor Hugo, a posh section for the well to do. Their son, Julio, lives in a studio in rue de la Pompe, apparently to get away from his millionaire father’s scrutiny and his mother’s constant worries about his extravagant ways while claiming that he needs quiet so he can paint. However, free from parental supervision, he carouses well into the night and sleeps well into the day. His Parisian lifestyle reinforces the novel’s depiction of the city’s decadence on the eve of World War I, to whose approach the Desnoyers are oblivious. Meanwhile, rumors of a coming war reach a fever pitch in Paris. Julio’s Russian neighbor equates the coming war with the biblical story of the four horsemen of the apocalypse: Plague, War, Famine, Death.


*Berlin. Germany’s capital city is depicted differently. Its residents welcome the prospect of war and celebrate German militarism.


*Lourdes (lewrd). Town in southwestern France near which the Desnoyers own a castle and a cattle farm. After Germany invades France, Don Marcelo travels mostly on foot to the town to check on his property. He finds that the Germans have pillaged the town and his castle, which they make their temporary headquarters. At Lourdes, he finally grasps the reality of war when he sees the full horrors of the German invasion.