Places Discussed

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 476


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*Argentina. South American country in which the prison cell holding Valentin and Molina is located. Argentina is a poor country swarming with crime and revolutionaries (like Valentin) who are trying to make the country a better place for all. Near the end of the novel, Molina and Valentin feel safer in the prison than in the outside world.

Tropical island

Tropical island. Valentin dreams of this unnamed island at the end of the novel. The island is an amalgam of the various film scenes that Molina has described. A woman appears to him in this dream, weaving webs out of her own body. This woman represents Molina and his storytelling abilities. His attraction toward this figure is emblematic of Molina and Valentin’s romantic feelings toward each other.


*France. Two films that Molina recalls take place in France. The first film, the apparently fictional Her Real Glory, is set in Paris in 1942. In the romantic setting of Paris, the two lovers of the film parallel Molina and Valentin. They too are opposites fighting against a common enemy—the Argentine prison system. Even though it is wartime, the scenes Molina describes are romanticized. The cabaret where Leni works, the German officer’s apartment, the final scene of the film in the German Pantheon—all are larger than life. The other film, about a race car driver, is more brutal, and Molina tells it because it reflects Valentin’s feelings for antigovernment forces.

*New York City

*New York City. The city that Molina describes in this film is taken from the original version of the horror film Cat People, which was made in 1942. While Molina does not describe the cityscape at all, the details he offers about other aspects of the city make it come alive for Valentin and the reader. New York City is worlds away from the small prison cell Molina and Valentin occupy both physically and culturally; Irene, a character in the film, is free to go to the zoo, the doctor, or anywhere else she pleases; Molina and Valentin are not. If Argentina is a damp prison with little hope, then New York City is the exact opposite: various, sensual, and alive.

Caribbean island

Caribbean island. Another film that Molina recollects, this time about zombies, takes place on a Caribbean island. The atmosphere of the island reflects the setting of the prison in its isolation.


*Mexico. Another film that Molina recounts is set on the coast of Mexico. Even though the film is described in romantic terms, the heroine feels like a prisoner, reflecting the fact that a person can feel like a prisoner where ever he or she is. The heroine, who wears a costume, reflects Molina; like the woman hiding behind the mask, Molina, being homosexual, appears to the world as a male while he feels like a woman.

Historical Context

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Argentina: History
The process of colonization of Argentina by Spain began in the sixteenth century and developed through the nineteenth century. Before the coming of the Europeans, the area now known as Argentina was populated by approximately 300,000 Indians. The colonization of the area was accomplished in part through the efforts of Catholic missionaries. The drive for national independence began in the early nineteenth century. Argentine independence from Spanish rule was first declared in 1816, although the country did not achieve a stable internal unity until 1880.

The first time an Argentine president was chosen by a popular vote (rather than by appointment of the previous president) was in 1916. The period from 1916 to 1930 in Argentina is referred to as the era of the "radical regime," followed from 1930 to 1943 by a "conservative" rule. A military coup in 1943 eventually led to the election of Juan...

(The entire section contains 2813 words.)

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