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“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?

Paul Bowles: Under the Sky

4 Apr

Here’s a nasty little story from the native’s perspective. So much for the noble savage. A couple of quick questions:

Is this guy supposed to represent his “people”? How would you characterize him?

Why does he start weeping at the end? And why does Bowles keep us out of his point of view when he does?

Paul Bowles: Call at Corazon

4 Apr

Here we have a Bowles story set in Latin America, probably Mexico, unlike his usual settings in northern Africa. How does the change of place effect the story? Or does the setting even matter?

Here we have a story that concerns a relationship between a man and woman, on their honeymoon. What does the setting say about the relationship? In other words, what kind of couple would choose to honeymoon like this?

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. Can you imagine what attracts them to each other?