Under the Volcano Additional Summary

Malcolm Lowry


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

On November 2, 1939, the Mexican Day of the Dead, Jacques Laruelle, a French film producer, is ready to leave Quauhnahuac, Mexico. Before leaving, Laruelle joins his friend Dr. Vigil, and the two talk about their common acquaintance, Geoffrey Firmin, former British consul to Quauhnahuac, who was murdered exactly one year earlier.

After his visit with Dr. Vigil, Laruelle walks toward the Casino de Silva and recalls that day a year before. His recollections lead Laruelle to remember the time he spent with Geoffrey and his half brother, Hugh, at the Taskersons’s home when all three were youngsters. One memory moves to another, and the story of Geoffrey and Hugh’s childhood is told.

Laruelle stops at the Cervecería XX, where he chats with Señor Bustamente, owner of the bar and neighboring cinema. Bustamente tells Laruelle that he suspects that the dead consul might have been a spy, or “spider.” At the end of their conversation, Bustamente gives Laruelle the copy of Elizabethan plays that Laruelle borrowed from Geoffrey. Laruelle intended to create a French version of the Faustus story. As he thumbs through the book, Laruelle finds a letter that Geoffrey wrote to his estranged wife, Yvonne, attempting to talk her into returning to him. Geoffrey never mailed the letter. When Laruelle leaves the bar, he walks up the Calle Nicaragua and remembers the day when Geoffrey was murdered and Yvonne was trampled to death by a horse.

On the morning of the 1938 Day of the Dead, Geoffrey did not sleep and sat in the cantina drinking. Unexpectedly, Yvonne, the consul’s former wife, appeared. She left Quauhnahuac the year before for America, where she secured a divorce from Geoffrey. Almost as unexpected was the return of the consul’s half brother and Yvonne’s lover, Hugh. Hugh returned because he felt that he could not stay away without suffering the pains of guilt that Yvonne suffered.

After their reunion, Geoffrey, Yvonne, and Hugh left on a trip to Tomalín. Their trip was interrupted when they stopped by the home of Laruelle. Laruelle was one of Yvonne’s former lovers, and the stopover caused much distress for Geoffrey because of Yvonne and Hugh’s new closeness. Geoffrey drank several tequilas. Hugh and Yvonne went...

(The entire section is 925 words.)