“Call at Corazon” and “Under the Sky” by Paul Bowles

5 Apr

Here we have two stories set in Mexico or thereabouts. Though the setting is quite removed from Morocco, we see some of Bowles’ main preoccupations–the intellect trying to overrule the emotions; the inscrutability of the other; the violence of the oppressed. Let’s consider the following questions:

How does the setting affect the characters and actions of these stories? How would they be different if they were in northern Africa?

How is “Call at Corazon” a love story? How does it go beyond a traditional love story?

What do each of the two main characters in “Corazon” want? What are they after?

What does the monkey signify? How is this “motif” repeated, and to what effect?

If this is a battle of the sexes, who wins? What happens next? Is the young wife in any way justified in what she does? Is her “punishment” fair, considering her “crime”?

Briefly describe these two characters. What attracts them to each other?

How does the author work with the “noble savage” trope in “Under the Sky”?

What kind of person is the unnamed main character in this story? Can we understand his motivations and faulty reasoning? It is possible to pity him?

Why does he start weeping at the end? And why does Bowles take us out of his point of view at that strange moment?

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141 Responses to ““Call at Corazon” and “Under the Sky” by Paul Bowles”

  1. Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Here’s the latest post.

    • Garold Millington The Third April 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

      I’m dumb and posted on the other one. oops.

  2. austinschoeck12 April 5, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Both characters seem very unhappy in this marriage. They always say negative comments to each other, and go off on their own. This behavior is very odd, especially on a honeymoon.

    • fanta166 April 5, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

      yeah i agree. They seemed to argue about absolutely anything that came up. It didn’t seem like a good pairing at all

    • hilarysteiger12 April 5, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

      I would agree with this! it struck me odd on the begining page how resentful the marriage was!

      • natlam144 April 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

        Yeah they were almost annoying to read about right away because they clearly didnt enjoy each other’s company

    • Kristel_E April 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

      Definitely! It’s beyond a traditional love story because they’re not acting like honeymooners are “supposed” to act. The thing though is that the husband seems to be interested in his wife, but keeps getting frustrated with her because she is constantly drinking and running off, and she is not interested in him it seems.

      • keelangoettsch11 April 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

        Yeah, it seems like they should not have gotten married. He always wants to one-up people and show off his knowledge while she just wants him to act “normal”. She seems to appease him, but really it’s a sort of reverse psychology so that she can get what she really wants

      • austinschoeck12 April 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

        I think it’s interesting how one paragraph said he was using her to escape his past. This didn’t make total sense to me, but I think it means he had a rough child hood with little to no personal relationships.

      • mariacatalano April 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

        I picked up on that too. The husband was definitely interested in the wife, but she seems to be over a marriage that’s only been in existence for a few days. I don’t understand why they got married in the first place? Maybe they had been dating awhile, because they bicker like they’ve been together forever.

    • sarahoberg12 April 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

      I agree. They definitely don’t get along, and the wife seems very controlling and condescending. For example, at one point she says to him, “Don’t talk to me… Go and buy your monkey.” She pulls the typical move in which she tells him to do something even though we all know if he does, she’ll be mad.

      • Garold Millington The Third April 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

        When will women realize that monkeys as pets are the key to our heart. Also, the couple really feel like a representation of different viewpoints men and women have.

      • natlam144 April 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

        Yeah I’d be curious to have had background on their relationship to see if there is a reason she is like that towards him or if shes just rude

    • Adam Bengfort April 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

      I thought that it was a very strange spot for a honeymoon. And why bring a monkey along!! Its just a really weird situation in my opinion.

      • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

        Why do you think they chose this for their honeymoon.

        • keelangoettsch11 April 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

          It seems like an adventurous thing to do, and that’s especially what the husband wanted. He likes the different adventures and she just goes along with him -probably not to get into a fight

          • natlam144 April 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

            I would agree that it was probably more so the husbands choice to go here instead of the wife. He seems to really enjoy the experience

        • mariacatalano April 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

          I feel like they may not have wanted this, they probably wanted something nicer. Maybe the failed honeymoon is a reflection of their marriage. Seemed like it would be a good idea, but it didn’t work out that way.

        • hilarysteiger12 April 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

          I think he thought he “knew” her well enough to plan a honeymoon, however it seems as if this place was more for him and on page 47 we can see that he was suprised that she didn’t like boats for example like he had previously thought.

    • Garold Millington The Third April 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

      The story doesn’t seem to be a traditional love story because the characters don’t end up happily together in the end. The Monkey seems to have a better relationship with the man than he does with the woman.

      • natlam144 April 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

        I would also agree with that. They just seem to constantly annoy each other and that type of marriage never seems to last

        • Garold Millington The Third April 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

          He’s adventurous and the dominant one in the relationship and she seems to be along for the ride. If Natalie was married to me she would wear the pants.

    • Elijah Olson April 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      Yeah, I agree. As a couple they don’t have that “normal” type of marriage. It almost seems as if they should never have been together.

  3. keelangoettsch11 April 5, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Addressing the second question, Call at Corazon is a love story because it deals with real issues of a marriage. Although they do disagree and have very different personalities, it’s a realistic portrayal of struggles couples face. Not all love stories have to have a happy ending

    • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

      What a strange place to take a honeymoon, don’t you agree? These are unusual people.

      • Garold Millington The Third April 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

        I like how Paul Bowles portrays big ideas like marriage or in the previous stories themes of colonialism in such a vacuum.

      • Dena Baity April 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

        Yeah, like it’s one thing to go on a cruise but this boat is a whole other experience. It seems more like the husband wanted an adventure to me, the wife didn’t seem on board. (Ha ha, boat pun)

        • mariacatalano April 5, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

          Good one, Dena

    • Kristel_E April 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

      I agree that this does portray some real issues of marriage, but marriages don’t normally start with a bunch of problems and have the spouses cheating on their honeymoon. It makes me wonder if this marriage was forced in any way or if maybe the wife was married off to the man and didn’t want to be. I get this from her indifference to him and her annoyance toward him.

      • natlam144 April 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

        Yeah I was wondering how they got together in the first place too. It doesnt seem like they are together by choice

    • Dena Baity April 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      I’m not sure this deals with “real issues” of marriage, it seems to me as though these people have a LOT of issues for a couple who have just gotten married. They should really still like each other enough to not be quarreling like this, I feel.

      • mariacatalano April 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

        Agreed. Especially because they’re newlyweds

  4. austinschoeck12 April 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    The setting of the boat reminded me a lot of the setting for “At Play”. For example, the natives on the boat are constantly drinking & gambling to pass the time. I believe this setting would be very similar if it was on a poor section of Africa.

    • sarahoberg12 April 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      The similarities between this and “At Play” are pretty noticeable. As Austin said, there is a lot of drinking and gambling, accompanied by nonstop bickering of the couple. This relates to Hazel and Martin. Therefore, I agree that if it were in northern Africa, the characters would behave similarly.

    • natlam144 April 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      I thought of that too when i was reading about the setting. The culture had similarities to At Play. I think in general they were both places these people didnt really need to go to

    • Adam Bengfort April 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      I really agree with this. The others on the boat also seem comfortable with the situation. It is not strange to them like it is to the main characters. It’s another case of people intruding ion places they don’t understand.

      • mariacatalano April 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

        So true like I said earlier the location is a reflection of their relationship, it seems foreign even to them.

    • Garold Millington The Third April 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

      The setting of Mexico and Africa seem to parallel each other as they are thought of as “the other place” or the hell holes of the Earth to developed and privileged societies.

  5. nicholasclark12 April 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    Yeah, it’s hard to say what these two really want, but I get the feeling that it is quite similar to what Quarrier and Moon wanted out of life. In a way, what they both want out of life is to find what they want out of life. I think they recognize this longing in each other, and that it gives them a strong bond despite their ideological differences.

    • austinschoeck12 April 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      I think he wants to develop a relationship built on love, but she wants one based on sex. On page 66, he says how women require strict ritualistic observance of the traditions of sexual behavior. This also reminded me of Andy Huben…

  6. benamrein12 April 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    I’m not sure I would even call “Call at Corazon” a love story. It seems what the man wants is to be free and escape. That’s why in the end, he seems happy and is smiling, writing in his notebook. I didn’t really find it clear on her wants, but it seemed that she wants a more serious man. I agree that it seems odd for their behavior on their honeymoon.

    • Dena Baity April 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

      I agree with this, I don’t feel like it was a love story at all. Perhaps more of a story about how two people find out they really aren’t meant to be together.

      • keelangoettsch11 April 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

        A love story can take on many different interpretations, but the husband does show signs of caring about her when she was lost -although he didn’t immediately go searching for her. It can still be a love story even if they find out they’re not meant to be together. Plus, it has a mini love story between the wife and the boat worker

        • Adam Bengfort April 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

          It’s like an anti-love story. Things don’t always work our but in this the both make a conscious decision to abandon each other. I don’t think that’s love.

          • natlam144 April 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

            I feel like their honeymoon made them finalize the fact that they didnt want to be together (they probably already didnt really want to be together anyway)

  7. Dena Baity April 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    In response to the question about the husband and wife, i spent a large amount of time while reading questioning why they were married in the first place, as they didn’t seem to get along.

    With the second story, I feel like the main character is a terrible person.

    • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      Terrible in what way?

      • Dena Baity April 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

        Similarly to what Sarah said, he raped a girl, he lied to her (he didn’t have a gun and wasn’t going to kill her companions) to get what he wanted, and he seems to have little to no remorse about it.

        • mariacatalano April 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

          No matter what someone’s past is, it does not give them the authority to do whatever they please

      • natlam144 April 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

        I think he’s terrible in a way that he lies to much. He even says on page 59 “You are saving your friends life…God will reward you”. He is using religion to try and justify his actions and actually make it a positive thing

    • sarahoberg12 April 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      I agree with Dena that the man does seem like a terrible person… It seems that he rapes tourists as a way to mourn his mother’s death, which is obviously just really weird. I find it hard to pity him because he is violent and cold. He “twist[s] her arm brutally” and has an “utterly empty face”, void of any emotion.

    • Kristel_E April 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

      For the second story, I also feel that the main character is not acting like a good person at all. I feel like there might be a reason for this though, at the end of the story, the old woman says, “He has lost his mother,” which leads me to believe that he was acting with such erratic behavior as some kind of reaction to his mother’s death, though this is quite a violent way to react to a death.

      • Dena Baity April 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

        I’m going to go for that being a “reason, not an excuse” for him to have acted the way he did.

      • austinschoeck12 April 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

        Maybe this character’s mother was murdered by a tourist? This could explain his reasons for wanting to take the white man’s wife to try to get revenge.

  8. Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    They’re an adventurous pair, choosing a third-world experience for a honeymoon. I have to say I kind of admire the novelty of it. They’re not interested in a luxury cruise, clearly.

    • Adam Bengfort April 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

      It’s true they seem adventurous but if this was the case I think they would be happier about the situation. If they want to explore and experience these things, then they shouldn’t be so upset with the experience.

      • Kristel_E April 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

        I wonder if they’re going on this honeymoon just for show. Their marriage seems to be the same way too: just for show. So, since both the marriage and honeymoon are acts, the characters (the man and wife) keep getting frustrated with the situation because they don’t really want it.

    • natlam144 April 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

      I felt like this poor setting made their relationship crumble even faster than it may have if they had chosen to go someone else. They clearly should have never been together in the first place because they are always in disagreement

      • mariacatalano April 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

        I don’t think the setting affected their already twisted relationship. I think the it was a reflection of it.

    • sarahoberg12 April 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

      I thought it was strange that although they did not seem interested in luxury vacations at all, the wife did scoff at a lot of the details of their trip. For example, she complains, “I’m just trying to live with you on an extended trip in a lot of cramped little cabins on an endless series of stinking boats.”

  9. nicholasclark12 April 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    Personally, I got the impression that the husband takes trips like this all the time – especially considering he has a notebook that’s presumably filled with accounts of similar trips. I don’t think the husband really considered this a special event, but rather an event that happened to occur after they got married.

    • sarahoberg12 April 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

      Yes, the only thing special about this time around is that he happened to ditch his wife!

    • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

      Yeah. He’s a writer, looking for strange and new experiences to write about. She obviously finds something attractive about him, or she wouldn’t have come along.

      • Garold Millington The Third April 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

        She likes the idea of dating a bad boy or the artist. It’s more about the notion of the thrill than the actual adventure. The actual adventure turns out to be too much.

    • austinschoeck12 April 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

      I agree. I feel like the guy may be an author or some sort of scientist because of his careful observations of his surroundings.

    • natlam144 April 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

      I think he’s just more accepting of very different cultures that most people would be. He didnt seem to mind the culture but instead found it very interesting

      • Joe Wood April 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

        It’s one thing to find a culture interesting and to be enthralled by it, it’s another thing entirely to view a culture as a collection of quaint novelties, meant only to be the object of your observations. What do you think he’s really doing here? Studying it as equal to his own, or merely objectifying it?

    • Elijah Olson April 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

      I agree. I saw it as a normal occurrence. It just goes along with them not having a normal honeymoon. It’s just another day for them.

  10. austinschoeck12 April 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    As for the use of the name “horror”, and how he wanted to carry one around, did anyone else find it ironic that his wife was a “whore”? Not sure if the author was trying to be humorous here or what?

    • keelangoettsch11 April 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

      Yeah, when I first read horror I thought it was a funny interpretation of the word whore since they sound so much alike

  11. Joe Wood April 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    I feel as though the main character in Under the Sky is very, very different from us. He seems to have an extreme sense of impunity when engaging in smoking marijuana and assaulting the woman. It seems that his reasoning is rooted in the idea that what he is doing isn’t wrong simply because of the fact that he’s doing it, the same sort of circular reasoning used by the professor in A Distant Episode.

    • austinschoeck12 April 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

      Yes, the main character from “Under the Sky” was very aggressive in his behavior. This was illustrated with how he roughly grabbed the woman’s wrist. This may be due to his lack of experience with women. In other words, he’s only use to dealing with men, which is why he’s so physical.

    • Dena Baity April 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

      I feel like that’s a pretty good comparison. The marijuana definitely didn’t help his mindset.

    • sarahoberg12 April 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

      I agree and I also feel that his reasoning stems from the death of his mother. Instead of dealing with death in a normal way, he chooses violence and drugs.

    • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

      Exactly. To judge him a bad person is kind of missing the point. His sense of reality is totally warped compared to ours. He’s paranoid, angry, arrogant, and utterly ignorant of “modern” city life.

    • Adam Bengfort April 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

      It’s like he really doesn’t care about anything. He just does whatever he feels like without really thinking about how it affects his victims.

  12. Brettjohnson April 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    About the question about battle of the sexes, I believe that it was a constant battle throughout the story, starting with him buying the monkey which is a battle that he won, but when he gets rid of it she feels that she’s won. This constant battle is what leads up to the wife cheating on her husband, which she is punished fairly by being left on the island.

    • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

      Interesting, Brett. You think her being abandoned is a just reaction to her sleeping with someone? Do the rest of you agree or disagree?

      • Joe Wood April 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

        I think it was also that he saw her as an encumbrance, only getting in the way of his study of the people.

      • sarahoberg12 April 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

        I thought it was a just reaction. They did not get along anyway, and I found it pretty funny when he left.

      • mariacatalano April 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

        I think it was a reaction, but at the same time it could just be a reason for him to leave her

    • nicholasclark12 April 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

      I agree that the monkey was the start of a battle between them both. She expressed her disapproval, and I think he just had a “don’t tell me what to do” moment. Then she sort of took it one step further. That’s usually how arguments get blown out of proportion in the first place, so it would make sense.

    • Joe Wood April 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

      I think it might be more than that though. Yes, there’s a gender element involved, but it also seems to be about level of intellect. “Modern, that is, intellectual education, having been devised by males for males, inhibits and confuses her.” Not only is she inferior because she is a woman, but because she is a lowly, unintellectual, woman.

      • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

        And yet, isn’t there some kernel of what me might call radical feminist thought in his statement about women? That current education models are built by men for men? Or is that just another form of sexism?

        • Joe Wood April 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

          I agree. I guess what I see between them (in addition to man vs. woman) is sort of an intellectual vs. emotional. He thinks, she emotes. He criticizes her actions for being emotional rather than rational. She doesn’t approve of the “rationality” of his choices and resents that he subjects her to the will of his “intellect”.

    • Garold Millington The Third April 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

      Brett you make an excellent point! I too had a precious item of mine that was given away by a girlfriend, I left her as well and felt better. Excellent parallel to real life.

    • Adam Bengfort April 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

      I think he had simply had enough and maybe the ultimate and final “win” was abandoning her.

  13. Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    The monkey reminds the man that all people are basically monkeys. It makes him feel better when they inevitably act like savages, which is what his wife finally does. And yes, he actually does seem to feel better at the very end.

    • sarahoberg12 April 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      I agree that there are similarities between the monkey and his wife. For example, he ends up getting rid of the monkey. Then, he gets rid of his wife. Both the monkey and the wife are things he thought he wanted, but he changed his mind pretty quickly.

  14. michaelhoover12 April 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    I think that Jacinto is weeping at the end of Under the Sky because he recognizes a kind of circular misery in his life. He wants to have power over others, but he can’t because he is too insecure. He takes out his anger with violence.

    • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

      Nicely put. He recognizes something he could never articulate, even to himself.

    • sarahoberg12 April 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

      I believe he also realizes the redundancy of his actions. He continues to mourn by assaulting women, but never reaches any sense of mental or emotional improvement. Like Michael said, it is a never ending cycle of misery.

      • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

        He doesn’t think what he did was assault. He thinks all women are prostitutes, and at the end of the rape, he’s surprised and delighted that she didn’t ask him for money.

  15. Kristel_E April 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    Am I the only one who found it kind of awesome that the husband ditched his wife and took her suitcase too? She cheated and she was the only one not contributing anything to the marriage and I really feel that she deserved it. Go nameless husband!

    • keelangoettsch11 April 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

      I think it was good that he stood up for himself, but it seemed like he wasn’t putting too much effort in either. I think they both were using each other in a way so it’s kind of an equal punishment that they’re separated now

    • Dena Baity April 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

      I mean, it’s not like he was contributing all that much either. They were both pretty immature.

      I celebrated when she left and again when he was happy at the end. They just didn’t need to be together.

      • Kristel_E April 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

        I really feel that he did contribute. He kept trying to be enthusiastic about things with her and she kept shooting him down. He was at least trying to make something out of their situation. I’m thinking about things like page 70 where he and the other passengers were getting excited at the danger of going through a small channel and she shoots him down and then again when he asks if she wants to go downstairs and see what all the laughter is about and she says, “I certainly don’t!”

  16. keelangoettsch11 April 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    I think it’s hard to determine if the wife got fair punishment. It’s a pretty harsh thing to just leave someone in a foreign place, especially if you’re married. In a relationship the right thing to do would be to address the issue and talk it out. He still could have made her pay for what she did, but instead he just avoided the confrontation so that he could feel like he won.

    • Kristel_E April 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

      That is definitely true, it just seems like these two characters have a lot more history (“bad” history) than we have been given for this story. There is a lot of frustration that seemingly has no source, and I feel like that “source” of frustration occurred earlier than the story we were given. It should take a lot for a husband to just leave and I think that a wife cheating on their honeymoon is enough, he abandoned her because she abandoned him.

    • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

      I think he left her with no money. Am I right? That’s a pretty serious situation. (Of course, I don’t feel too sorry for her; I didn’t feel that sorry for him when he caught her cheating either.)

      • keelangoettsch11 April 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

        Yeah, I think they both got what they deserved in the end

      • Kristel_E April 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

        Yes, his reaction was definitely harsh, and I don’t feel that it’s right or okay to leave a person stranded, but she was so in the wrong that I have a hard time sympathizing with her.

        • Adam Bengfort April 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

          Yeah I agree with Kristel. I don’t have sympathy for either of them. They have been fighting this war and it had to end somehow. I think just getting away from her was the best choice. Maybe it was unnecessary to take all her stuff but I understand that the husband wanted to win the fight.

        • Dena Baity April 5, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

          I just keep remembering how he didn’t want to go looking for her. He wasn’t even that mad, he just wanted her to come crawling back. That’s such a childish response and I have zero sympathy for either of them. She cheated, he took all her stuff and left.

          Meh.

  17. benamrein12 April 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    I agree that the main character in Under the Sky is very different from us. I accidently commented on last year’s blog, but I think that the loss of his mother made him into the person he is. We dont know when she died, but this kind of loss can change a person. I don’t think he was raised to know how to treat a woman and is ashamed of what kind of person he has turned out without her.

    • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

      I’m pretty sure he never lost his mother. The point of view cuts to an old woman who ASSUMES he lost his mother. She’s obviously wrong.

      • keelangoettsch11 April 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

        Yeah, I thought it was annoying how he seemed to have an acceptable reason to cry because the women thought his mother died. He has no reason to cry and I did not like how he got to be the victim in the end

        • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

          I think the point of the ending is how little we understand each other. And Jacinto isn’t merely misunderstood by tourists. Even the local woman totally misses the point of him–and oversimplifies it!

        • sarahoberg12 April 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

          I think the question “Is it possible to pity him” really relates to why the author turns to a different point of view at the end (that of the old woman). Perhaps the author wants us to see that others pity him, and suggest that readers should as well.

      • nicholasclark12 April 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

        Yeah, Jacinto seems like a textbook villain in some respects. Misunderstood, manipulative, remorseless during, regretful after.

    • Garold Millington The Third April 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

      Does anybody notice a common theme of pool hall games like billiards, cards, or gambling in Bowles stories? It’s like the cliche seedy thing to do.

      • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

        Yeah. He’s a New York guy who fell in love with the seedy side of the Third World. He made a career of it.

  18. Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    Is it possible that the couple in some sick way actually enjoy these games they play with each other, these little battles?

    • keelangoettsch11 April 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

      I think so, they both get to show their dominance and the thrill of winning an argument or situation can give people pleasure

    • Joe Wood April 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      Most definitely. It’s a constant battle for points. How many times can I reaffirm my superiority, whether of character, intellect, etc.

    • nicholasclark12 April 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      I think that’s entirely possible. If they had enough gall to go on a cruise akin to those we’ve seen in recent news, then they certainly have the gall to push each other’s buttons just to catch a glimpse into each others’ minds.

    • Dena Baity April 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      I think so too, I think they need someone to bicker with but also they just didn’t seem to like each other very much.

    • Garold Millington The Third April 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      I think so, it becomes like an addiction to people to fight each other, even if it’s about the most mundane and trite things.

    • Brettjohnson April 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

      I think that they do to an extent, but these games become a reality when she takes it too far by cheating on him and he ends up leaving her.

    • sarahoberg12 April 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

      I think so. I also think the man got rid of the monkey so he could let the wife “win” that little battle. Then, to show her who’s boss, he wins the bigger battle by getting rid of her.

    • natlam144 April 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

      I think so sometimes. I think sometimes it’s one of those relationships that you know in the back of your mind is bad for both of you, but for some reason (been together for so long, etc.) that you just stay and deal with it

  19. michaelhoover12 April 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    It is hard to sympathize with a rapist, and perhaps that’s why the author didn’t put it in his perspective when he started crying.

    • Elijah Olson April 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

      I agree, even with his circumstances it makes it extremely hard to be sympathetic.

    • nicholasclark12 April 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

      That’s a good point. It would have been interesting to see how Jacinto tried to justify his actions, but maybe his tears were all Bowles needed to tell us what he thought.

      • nicholasclark12 April 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

        It also provides a good contrast in some ways, considering the husband in Call at Corazon justified every little action he took – whether it needed justifying or not.

        • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

          I suspect Bowles didn’t imagine Jacinto having any real thoughts. He’s not a thinker. The tears were probably as mysterious to him–or even more so–as they are to us. He would never understand his own deep rooted remorse and self pity.

      • hilarysteiger12 April 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

        i would agree i saw the tears as a form of remorse

  20. Brettjohnson April 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    I believe the main character in “Under the Sky” begins to weep at the end of the story because clearly at sometime in his life, he had issues with the mother figure in his life, and you can see this from the way he has acted around the women in the story, and gets a realization of how much that mother figure means to people when the woman comes up at the end and says that the boy has lost his mother.

    • Kristel_E April 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      I agree with that. There definitely seems to be some kind of connection between this man’s acts and his relationship with his mother or other female figures in his life.

    • Garold Millington The Third April 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

      I feel like the boy at the end is meant to be like him and how he doesn’t want someone else to experience the same tribulations he has. He doesn’t want it to be a cycle.

    • sarahoberg12 April 5, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

      I agree that he definitely has a problem with women in general. It is extremely weird that after he rapes the woman, “he was happy because she had not asked for any money.” Instead of thinking about her feelings, he is just happy he got away without handing over money. Also, after getting raped, what woman would just casually be like, “Hey, can I have money?” The man obviously just does not think like a normal human being with emotions at all.

  21. keelangoettsch11 April 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    I think the man in Under the Sky also has dominance issues and since he said he could never own a gun, he needed to prove to himself that he could still assert his dominance. The foreign lady was an easy target and he wanted to prove he had power

    • Dena Baity April 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

      This is good. I think he definitely has some psychological issues, mother or no mother. Also, like I said before, the drugs aren’t helping his mental state at all.

    • Garold Millington The Third April 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

      Paul Bowles likes the themes of domination and control I feel.

      • Adam Bengfort April 5, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

        He also seems to like the idea of people failing to adjust to alternate systems of society. In the first three short stories this is seen and even Under the Sky is talking about the foreigners traveling through the area being taken advantage of.

    • Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

      Yes. In the very beginning, he has to walk faster than everyone else. He wants to be the top dog, but in town, he knows he’s nobody, just a poor, shoeless peasant. This drives him crazy, so he takes it out on whoever he can.

    • Brettjohnson April 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

      I agree, this seemed very evident when he gets two of his “cigarettes” taken and he feels overpowered, he goes to the farthest extent by saying that he wishes he could pull a gun out on him to show his dominance.

      • Kristel_E April 5, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

        Yes! And on top of that, he “stalks” his prey in a way by waiting for women to exit a place and then following them; this keeps him in control of the situation.

  22. Kelly Daniels April 5, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    I’m signing off. See you in class in a few minutes.

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