Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Like many of Luisa Valenzuela’s works, “I’m Your Horse in the Night” deals with politics, power, language, and gender issues. This story illustrates Argentina’s history during the military repression or dirty war in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, when torture was common and thousands of people disappeared. The principal characters in the story have fictitious names, implying that they fear to reveal their true identities in a terrorized society. When Chiquita hears the doorbell ringing at night, she fears a visit by the ubiquitous and dreaded secret police.

The relationship of Chiquita and Beto serves as a metaphor for Argentina’s society, torn by violence and despotism. The expression of the couple’s fears, passions, and desires represents the private and the public story of this society. The pair also symbolizes the opposition between individual freedom and dictatorship and the struggle between female dignity and the macho syndrome. The female protagonist longs for love and togetherness with Beto, but she is dehumanized by his condescending language and acts of differentiation. He enforces his male superiority by calling her Chiquita—the little one. He shows off his masculinity and power by stripping her of human qualities and defining her as his obedient and passive horse.

All Beto’s attention is focused on Chiquita’s body, and his relationship with her is based on male sexual domination. He does not like to speak with...

(The entire section is 552 words.)