In comparison with more traditional novelists of the nineteenth century, Cortázar does not create memorable characters; rather, his characters emerge from cultural codes. That is, political discourse determines the boundaries of, for example, Heredia or Gomez, while the character of Andres is shaped by the aleatory music that he loves.
Cortázar is not concerned with a psychological analysis, a realistic representation, or a symbolic use of characters. Rather, his characters are placed in situations in order to provoke the reader.
Cortázar’s characters are typically marginal in relation to society; in Rayuela (1963; Hopscotch, 1966), they are students, transients, circus performers, and mental patients. In A Manual for Manuel, they are a marginal political group. A Manual for Manuel is a sort of mirror image of Hopscotch. Traveler and Horacio reappear as Marcos and Andres; La Maga and Talita as Ludmilla and Francine. Just as Traveler was able to make a commitment to Talita, while Horacio could not make such a commitment either to politics or to La Maga, so Marcos is a member of the Screwery while Andres is on the edge of the revolutionary group. Ludmilla is confused by the activities of the Screwery. Francine owns a book and stationery shop and lives in an elegant apartment with her cat, library, and scotch. Ludmilla lives in disorder with pieces of leek “hung all over the place.” Andres is...
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