The Kugelmass Episode

by Woody Allen

Start Free Trial

Student Question

Why does Allen choose a remedial Spanish grammar as Kugelmass's hell instead of a book punishing adulterers?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I find the ending of "The Kugelmass Episode" very appropriate.

Throughout the narrative, Kugelmass sees literature as a form of escape. He is looking for a way out of his banal world. �His therapist is honest in saying that he is "not a magician," reflecting that Kugelmass's desire for release borders on the magical and is not realistic. �Kugelmass's escapism is a critical part of his characterization. He does not see any depth to the characters of Flaubert's�Madame Bovary�and Roth's�Portnoy Complaint. �Kugelmass does not acknowledge the emptiness of these literary characters or their own flaws. Instead, he simply sees them as forms of escape, viewing them as a means to an end. �

Kugelmass's illusions are stripped when he is left alone with the remedial Spanish textbook. �Escape from this literature is impossible. �His dreams and hopes of what might be are replaced with the terror in the irregular verb "tener." �The "large and hairy" verb chases Kugelmass. �His romantic escapism has become supplanted by a real form of escape. �His dreams of a better world are replaced with a barren, rocky�� reality. �Had Kugelmass been placed in a world of purgatory, he would still see literature as a form of escapism. If Kugelmass had been placed in a cosmic realm of the underworld, it would have been a more exciting universe than the one he inhabits. However, in placing him in a world where remedial Spanish chases after him, Kugelmass has learned the ultimate lesson about literature. �He has learned that there is a danger to romanticizing it, a peril in using it as a means to an end. �

It is very important to note that Kugelmass is chased by the Spanish verb, "tener" which means "to have." �Kugelmass had spent his entire life trying "to have" something that he could not and failing to �appreciate what he did possess. In his ending of being chased by the maniacal and irregular "tener," he learns that he will never have what he wishes. �Perhaps, a life where he made peace with what he did "have" would have been better than this world. There might have been happiness in just being "regular." � As a result, I find the short story's ending very appropriate.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial