The initiation rituals described in the novel are also known by the term "hazing." Research the role of hazing in neighborhoods, gangs, boarding schools, fraternities, or military academies. What is hazing and how does it differ depending on setting, if at all? Why is this traditional practice under scrutiny? What are the legal issues? Do you think hazing is simply a part of growing up and that the death rate is unavoidable?
How many levels of masculinity are there in the novel? How many levels of race? Compare the multiplicity of hierarchical levels in Peruvian society to the structure of the U.S.
William Faulkner looms behind the Latin American Boom. Compare Faulkner's Light in August to The Time of the Hero. How, for example, has Vargas Llosa drawn from Faulkner and with what results?
Given the preoccupation with sex that the adolescent boys have throughout the novel, reflect on the implications of the opening citation from Sartre on gender.
Research the debate in America over gays in the military. How has the debate changed perceptions of masculinity?
Research the role of the U.S. in the manufacturing of military regimes throughout Latin America during the Cold War. For example, why do U.S. and Latin American political activists object to the U.S.'s School of the Americas? What sort of academy is it and what are the most likely accomplishments of its graduates?