Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

As a foreword, Sainz defines the word gazapo from two different dictionaries. Both give the literal meaning as “a young or newly born rabbit” and its colloquial uses as “a shrewd and astute man” or “a big lie, a whopper.” The main themes can be related to any of these interpretations. As the novel describes the world of the young generation and its lack of focus, the naivete of the young rabbit is evident. Menelao is a displaced person in an urban society which has lost its sense of structure. A victim of circumstances, he fights back with the only tools he has—his imagination and his cleverness—hence the other meanings of the title.

Sainz plays a little with the reader, whom he challenges to find the truth of the action in the novel. In essence, he questions the reliability of anyone who tells a story. If one doubts Vulbo and his boasting about Nacar, why does one believe anyone else in the story, even Menelao? With the diary and tape-recorder accounts, Sainz states the fact that the reader tends to believe taped and written accounts without doubting their validity. The accurate street routes, moreover, compound the illusion, since the person unfamiliar with the city cannot visualize the setting but is convinced of its authenticity. Throughout the novel, Sainz thus contrasts the accuracy of the accounts and the setting with the displacement the characters experience.

Although the treatment of these themes is humorous,...

(The entire section is 523 words.)