Wilde wrote Salomé while frequenting the symbolist circles of late nineteenth-century Paris. Among the symbolists, the legend of the Oriental princessWilde wrote Salomé while frequenting the symbolist circles of late nineteenth-century Paris. Among the symbolists, the legend of the Oriental princess who dances for the head of John the Baptist had experienced a massive revival in both the visual and literary arts. According to his biographers, Wilde drafted the bulk of the play in a single sitting after an evening spent discussing the legend with a number of fellow writers. Taking a break, Wilde stopped by a nearby café that same night and requested that the orchestra help him in his endeavor by playing something that might conjure a "woman dancing in her bare feet in the blood of a man she has craved for and slain." Wilde completed his play soon thereafter. Significantly, he wrote Salomé entirely in French, and, because of a law forbidding the theatrical depiction of biblical figures, the play never saw production in either English or England during Wilde's lifetime. As a result, Wilde published the work in the original, and actress Sarah Bernhardt later staged it in a production. An English translation of the play by Lord Alfred Douglas appeared in 1894, though Wilde reportedly regretted what he saw as its "schoolboy fault." Hedwig Lachmann produced Salomé's more respectable German translation, which served as the libretto to Richard Strauss's opera of the same name. A number ofSalomé's critics have suggested that Wilde's weakness in French explains the play's at times simple and repetitive dialogue; others have argued for its intentionally mechanical and estranged effects, comparing the piece especially to the work of symbolist Maurice Maeterlinck. It is also possible that Wilde's turn from his native tongue corresponds from a turn from the "native" subjects of his domestic comedies, French figuring here as the language of choice for his Orientalist reverie.
That Salomé concerns itself with looking is about as self-evident as its concern with sex. The Salomé legend, featuring what has been for the West one of the primal scenes of woman-as-spectacle and male spectator, is organized in all its forms around the seductive play of voyeurism and exhibitionism, exhibition and concealment, and the transgression of visual taboos on the body. Invariably, the transgression of these taboos involves illicit sexual desire. Looking in Salomé is dangerous, bringing death on the stage. Thus the image of the prophet that captures Salomé's illicit gaze awakens her lethal desire and the fascination of Herod's incestuous gaze by the image of the dancing Salomé, and her seductive veils binds him to the prophet's execution.
At the center of the play is of course Salomé. Her image fatally captures the male gaze: for looking on her too much, the Syrian will die. Equally significant is Salomé's own "strange look," a look she will cast specifically on Jokanaan, which will demand the prophet's recognition to the point of his death. We elaborate the qualities of this Salomé as spectacle and look further under Motifs. The other forbidden gaze in the play is Herod's. Herod's look upon Salomé is incestuous, lascivious, and grotesque—that of a "mole's eyes" under "shaking eyelids." When Herod's lust for looking leads him to Jokanaan's execution, he will guiltily exclaim that Salomé is punishing him for his look. Thus he will resolve to withdraw from looking altogether, turning from both people and things. This withdrawal prefigures his disgusted retirement from the scene of the visible, where he puts out the palace torches and reduces the stage to darkness: "I will not look at things, I will not suffer things to look at me."
Along with the dancing Salomé, the play's other primary body-as-spectacle is Jokanaan's. As a mystic, Jokanaan would remove himself from worldly desire—again, here organized fundamentally by structures of voyeurism and exhibitionism, look and spectacle—in his apparent "blindness" and invisibility. Reduced to God's mouthpiece, Jokanaan sees nothing. Only gradually does he emerge from his haze to see Salomé—the girl everyone else is looking at—and then immediately refuses to grant her his gaze. As Salomé exclaims, the prophet's blank eyes are above all terrible, like black holes burned in tapestries, dragon caverns, and—in a reference to her attempt to seduce him—lakes troubled by "fantastic moons." The blackness of his eyes marks Jokanaan's refusal to return the enamored princess' gaze by looking at her. Secreted in the cistern and barred from view by royal decree, Jokanaan is also an invisible, tabooed body. Salomé's transgression is her look on him, a look that gives him an eroticized body.
Though Salomé is not directly "about" the Orient, the reader would do well, in an era where many still believe that the "clash of civilizations" is upon us, to take a cue from Edward Said and consider the play's imbrications in the longstanding Western discourse of Orientalism. In this sense, Saloméwould figure less a "portrait" of some supposed Orient than as staging of Victorian fantasies of it. Take, for example, the parenthesis on the Tetrarch's wine toward the beginning of the play. Here the Second Soldier lists Herod's three wines in a series of parallel structures, describing their color and land of origin: purple from Samothrace, yellow from Cyprus, and red from Sicily. Color is evoked in simile: purple like Caesar's cloak, yellow like gold, and red like blood. The listings of the wines is reminiscent of a fairy tale device, the wines mapping the fantastic and exotic world of the play and evoking its trappings of power. Here the language belongs to a fantasy of the exotic Orient, an Orient composed of ornaments, luxurious commodities, wondrous artifacts, fiery passions, and high adventure.
As almost all its critics have noted, Salomé weaves an extensive network of metaphors around the color white, which all link to the moon, Salomé, and the prophet. Key terms in this network include: an unearthly paleness, flowers, silver and doves (in the case of Salomé), sepulchers, ivory, and statues (in the case of Jokanaan). Significantly it elaborates this network in the cast's various acts of looking at the feminized trio, its members appearing as the play's consummate—and most consuming—objects of the look. Thus the play begins with two voyeurs: the Syrian, who marvels at the beautiful princess, and the Page, mesmerized by the moon. The Page's first line is an injunction to look: "Look at the moon!" Though both these voyeurs first appear lost in their own reveries, their respective monologues soon interweave around the pronoun "she." The moon becomes a metaphor for the princess: she is a dead woman rising from a tomb, slowly moving, dancing a dance of death. The link to the prophet, who will himself soon rise from the tomb-like cistern at the back of the stage, is also clear. Thus the image of the moon/princess/prophet heralds the viewers' death. As the Page repeatedly warns the Syrian, if he looks at "her" too much, undoubtedly something terrible will happen.
Importantly, however, not only does the male look at the female: the female looks back and also with fatal results. The play unfolds under the gaze of the moon, a gaze that, as the page notes, searches for the dead. As the Syrian muses, the princess herself has a "strange look" (the play is consistently unable to resist the double entendre); the Page senses the significance of this female look more clearly: "You would fancy she was looking for dead things." This phrase of course parallels the Syrian's own fancy: "You would fancy she was dancing." Again, Salomé's dance is the dance of death. And, in dancing, she looks for dead things. Thus the feminine will bring death here as both look and spectacle.
Salomé features a host of omens symbolizing the death about to befall the palace, the majority of which are perceived by an increasingly desperate, paranoiac Herod and prophesied by Jokanaan. Examples include: the beating wings of the angel of death, the blood in which Herod slips, and the blood-red moon. Some have somatic effects: his garland is like fire and burns his forehead. He tosses it on the table and its petals become bloodstains on the cloth. Certainly one hears the echo of the crown of thorns here. Terrified Herod reflects that one "must not find symbols in everything" as it "makes life impossible." Unlike Herodias, however, Herod would not seek life in an ultimately hopeless denial of metaphor but in metaphor itself—specifically, the reversibility between metaphor's terms. Thus "it is better to say that stains of blood are as lovely as rose petals." Of course, the omen is perhaps characterized by the inflexibility of its metaphoric structures, the stop in the whirligig between a metaphor's terms. Though usually vague in its meaning and thus producing uncontrollable anxiety in its audience, it remains "motivated" nevertheless as a demonstration of some ill fate. Thus the petals are blood because the garland must portent dark times in the palace....more
There are two things George Orwell and Burma (now Myanmar) have in common. First, Orwell actually spent five years stationed in Burma before his writiThere are two things George Orwell and Burma (now Myanmar) have in common. First, Orwell actually spent five years stationed in Burma before his writing career. Second, the present military regime bears a striking resemblance to the societies Orwell describes in his works, "Animal Farm" and "Nineteen Eighty Four". The tyrannical and closed country of Myanmar is exposed through this travelogue that is interestingly and topically adorned with underground interviews and beautifully described scenes from the country and city alike.
Orwellian indeed is this modern day police state where personal libraries have to be secretly hidden and volumes passed discretely between the iconoclast intelligentsia that still exist in the quasi-safety of clandestine coffeehouses and desolate poverty and oppression. What a luxury to have the fruits of Larkins efforts and risk taking be available in the volume....more
Ambiguity of sympathetic for Clytemnestra; applaud or condemn her husband's murder?
On one hand, the murder of Iphigenia is presented as a terrible criAmbiguity of sympathetic for Clytemnestra; applaud or condemn her husband's murder?
On one hand, the murder of Iphigenia is presented as a terrible crime, and Clytemnestra acts to avenge this wrongful death. She is convinced of her own righteousness, freely confessing to the crime and showing no signs of guilt, and Agamemnon, arrogant and foolish, certainly is not a sympathetic victim. On the other hand, in the structure of the trilogy, Clytemnestra's crime is terrible and necessitates vengeance by her son. Moreover, the tawdry motivation for her actions becomes apparent when Aegisthus appears. It is not merely that she wants vengeance for Iphigenia, she also wants to be able to carry on freely with her lover. Aeschylus seems to be keeping Clytemnestra firmly in the audience's sympathies, without even hinting at Aegisthus' existence until the end of the play when he must begin to lay the groundwork for the events of The Libation-Bearers....more
THE NOVEL IS DIVIDED INTO three sections narrated by three different Native American women: Rayona, Christine, and Ida. Rayona’s narrative begins at tTHE NOVEL IS DIVIDED INTO three sections narrated by three different Native American women: Rayona, Christine, and Ida. Rayona’s narrative begins at the hospital, where she is playing cards with her mother, Christine, who drinks heavily and is frequently hospitalized. Rayona’s father, Elgin, arrives and argues with Christine. Rayona leaves for the parking lot and finds Christine trying to break into their car. Christine says she is going to crash the car so Rayona can collect the life insurance payment. Rayona forces her way into the car and she and her mother drive off. Christine decides to leave their home in Seattle and return to the reservation in Montana where she grew up. Christine and Rayona spend the night packing and leave the next day.
Misunderstandings between characters occur throughout the novel, and Dorris puts us in the unusual position of being able to see both sides of some arguments. There are three different but overlapping story lines with three different narrators who occasionally report the same event from differing points of view. These multiple narrators demonstrate how three characters who should be very close to one another can misunderstand each other, at times dramatically. As the novel opens, for example, Rayona is at the hospital visiting Christine, whose actions seem melodramatic, irresponsible, and irrational. However, when this scene is revisited in Christine’s story, we learn that Christine has just found out she has less than six months to live, and she wounded by the lack of sympathy from both her daughter and her ex-husband.
Likewise, though Ida comes off as rather cold and resentful to others—she herself admits this is an apt description—her personal life at least makes her temperament seem forgivable or understandable. If Christine and Rayona knew Ida’s history, they would understand that her coldness is her reaction to the treatment she has received throughout her life. Dorris presents the defining events of his characters’ lives, the ones that shape who they are and how they react to the world. In the cases of Christine and Ida, such events often remain secret and inspire negative reactions from the novel’s other characters. Only when we are given access to a character’s life and thoughts can we hope to understand that character’s actions.
In the end, A Yellow Raft in Blue Water favors family as a means of support, but the novel also questions how the problems of one generation can be passed to the next. Ida, Christine, and Rayona each represent a different generation of the same family, and each generation resonates with the lives of those who came before. The secrets that characterize Ida’s life create a number of misunderstandings between the three women. Neither Rayona nor Christine can understand the events that influence them, and a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding grows between mother and daughter. The events surrounding Christine’s birth and adoption by Ida resonate throughout the novel. Ida is the only person to witness these events, but they are so powerful that they affect the way she raises Christine, who in turn passes their effect on to Rayona.
Finding one’s place is a crucial element of growing up, and since growing up is a part of each of the novel’s three stories, each of the three chief characters struggles to belong. Ida never really has the opportunity to find her place or assert herself, and she quickly gives up any hope of successfully battling the currents that drive her life. Ida tries to come to peace with the path her life has taken but she remains resentful. Christine, on the other hand, has many opportunities that Ida lacks, and she takes full advantage of them. Christine tries on a number of identities, looking for one that fits: she tries first to be daring, then religious, then social and even somewhat promiscuous. None of these identities fulfills Christine, however, so she looks for herself in other people. She finds comfort in being Lee’s sister, and then Elgin’s husband, but the comfort does not last. Only when Rayona is born does Christine find her true place. She feels that Rayona gives her life meaning, and though she continues to live her wild life, she knows that, in the end, whatever she does must be for Rayona.
Rayona’s identity is more precarious than her mother’s. Although Rayona knows the identities of her parents, Elgin is largely absent and Christine is not exactly motherly. Rayona longs for a place in a family, so she clings to the love expressed in the letter she finds at Bearpaw Lake instead of looking to something that is actually part of her life. Rayona also struggles with her racial and physical identity, as she is of mixed race and gangly appearance. She is an outsider in almost every way and indulges in escapism. Once Rayona discards Ellen’s letter, however, we see that she finally comes to feel comfortable with her mother and her own identity. For Rayona, an integral part of finding her identity is trying on a fictitious one and realizing that even the dreamiest circumstances she can imagine do not make her hurt less. Rayona’s journey is ultimately less about figuring out who she is than it is about reconciling herself to her identity.
Faith is one of the more elusive elements of the novel, but it is an issue that each of the protagonists confronts. Rayona, Christine, and Ida have very different experiences with faith and the church. Rayona, abandoned by her parents and ignored by Ida, turns to the church for security. In her relationship with Father Tom, it appears as if Rayona has found someone who cares about her and whom she can trust. However, the basis for this trust turns out to be illusory, and in the end Rayona finds the security she needs only with her mother. Ida, on the other hand, does find a meaningful relationship, and the closest thing she has to a mutual understanding, in her relationship with Father Hurlburt. In contrast to the somewhat devious Father Tom, Father Hurlburt is one of the few people who shares Ida’s secrets. At times Father Hurlburt seems to be the only person who thinks Ida is worth being around. Ida has not lived a perfect life by Christian standards, something that her sister, Pauline, is sure to point out. Father Hurlburt, however, never judges Ida, and he is able to look past religious dogma and become her close friend. Finally, Christine’s religious faith wavers over the course of her life. She shows a strong capacity for faith in her early life, but when a critical element of her faith is proven wrong, Christine completely turns her back on religion.
Most of the religious figures in the novel are portrayed as malicious, absurd, or a combination of both. Though resentment toward the presence of the Holy Martyrs Mission on the reservation is obvious from the very beginning of the novel, a feeling lingers that faith is good and helpful for whomever it touches. For Rayona, Ida, and Christine, faith is sometimes vague or obscured, even warped and dangerous, yet it can support them when they least expect it....more
Hope has the power to give people strength in times of suffering, but it also threatens to blind them to reality. Most of tThe Dangerous Power of Hope
Hope has the power to give people strength in times of suffering, but it also threatens to blind them to reality. Most of the characters in Krik? Krak! hold on to hope in order to keep themselves alive. In “Night Women,” the narrator makes up stories about an angel coming to rescue her and her son in order to hide the truth from him, but she also uses these stories to escape the harsh reality of her life. Similarly, in “Seeing Things Simple,” Princesse avoids the world around her by dreaming of becoming an artist and immersing herself in the reality of a foreign painter. These characters survive by denial and wait for the day when such denial will no longer be necessary. However, this coping strategy can be dangerous. In “Between the Pool and the Gardenias,” Marie’s hope becomes a delusion when she pretends to find the daughter she always wanted. This fantasy leads her to hold on to the baby even as it begins to rot, and she is finally arrested when the pool-cleaner, whom Marie had convinced herself cared about her, accuses her of witchcraft. Several other characters find out that too much hope can result in crippling despair when reality sets in....more
For four decades Polish war correspondent, Kapuscinski, traveled through Africa whenever he could, documenting the people and places in the midst of sFor four decades Polish war correspondent, Kapuscinski, traveled through Africa whenever he could, documenting the people and places in the midst of siege, turning over the rocks to show his fortunate readers the truth of what lies beneath. I learned more about Africa reading this one small book than half a century of living had taught me prior. The mind of the African does not lend itself to self-criticism. This, according to Kapuscinski, is the challenge of the future for this enormous and disparate continent. From the dusty roads deep in the Congo to teeming dangerous cities we find in his writing honest accounts of real lives that tell stories illuminating the enormous challenges and seemingly strange reactions of the Africans with one another and with the onslaught of the external world. His writing is beautiful: clear, concise, probing. I was left with a greater understanding and a deep foreboding. This is a must read.
"People are not hungry because there is no food in the world. There is plenty of it: there is a surplus, in fact. But between those who want to eat and the bursting warehouses stands a tall obstacle indeed: politics. Khartoum restricts the number of flights bringing supplies for the hungry. Many of the planes that reach their destination are robbed by the local chieftains. Whoever has weapons, has food. Whoever has food, has power. We are here among people who do not contemplate transcendence and the existence of the soul, the meaning of life and the nature of being. We are in a world in which man, crawling on the earth, tries to dig a few grains of wheat out of the mud, just to survive another day." ...more
This was a nice book, easy to read, a simple story well told, cultural and informative. There is little not like about Helenga's first book. At the saThis was a nice book, easy to read, a simple story well told, cultural and informative. There is little not like about Helenga's first book. At the same time it was not a life changing book by any measure. This is a story of a woman's self discovery on the cusp of middle age. The setting is in Florence where our hero has gone to help restore book antiquities damaged in a flood. This rich environment is where she grapples with ideas of home and future and romance and work. Add a nice little story line and it becomes a quick enjoyable read....more
In the second half of the 16th century a Turkish Grand Vizir had a bridge built over the river Drina at Vishegrad, in what is now eastern Bosnia; in 1In the second half of the 16th century a Turkish Grand Vizir had a bridge built over the river Drina at Vishegrad, in what is now eastern Bosnia; in 1914, during the First World War, it was destroyed by the retreating Austrians. The Bridge on the Drina is a novel — or more accurately, perhaps, a cross between a novel and a series of short stories — woven around the unifying subject of that bridge. While much is made of the contrast between the enduring stone of the bridge and the ephemeral lives of the people who lived by it, what Andriç offers is something more unusual — insight into both the continuities and the changes in human culture over a span of centuries.
Written after the last round of blood-letting in the Balkans, The Bridge on the Drina may attract those wanting some background to the current events in Bosnia. Indeed it gives a much better feel for the history of relationships between Christians and Muslims in the area than any account of battles, treaties and dates is likely to do. But you don't have to have an interest in history to appreciate it; like the bridge itself, The Bridge on the Drina is beautiful as well as useful, with a power belied by its elegant simplicity. The judges who awarded Ivo Andriç the Nobel prize for literature in 1961 knew what they were doing, and The Bridge on the Drina is the most impressive work of fiction I have read. ...more
Travel to North London and follow the lives of two families through the travails of their difficult environment, the rigors of ignorance, the promiseTravel to North London and follow the lives of two families through the travails of their difficult environment, the rigors of ignorance, the promise and disillusionment of the children, the recurring hopes and dreams of each new generation. A bit formula and contrived at times this novel definitely takes the reader to another place you may never know otherwise....more
Despite Fitzgerald's literary success, he and Zelda could not maintain their decadent lifestyle, which took both a financial and emotional toll. ZeldaDespite Fitzgerald's literary success, he and Zelda could not maintain their decadent lifestyle, which took both a financial and emotional toll. Zelda's sanity suffered and she began to seek psychological treatments in Switzerland, while Scott was forced to abandon novel writing in order to pay her medical bills. Zelda's battle with mental illness is reflected in the character of Nicole Diver in Tender Is the Night. Yet while Nicole recovers, Zelda did not, remaining in institutions until she died.
Tender Is the Night was published to mixed reviews in 1933. While some noted its extraordinary elegance and power, many found it objectionable for different reasons. Following the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, Americans were far less interested in reading about gay decadence on the Riviera; the book was criticized for being frivolous. Ernest Hemingway, among others, accused Fitzgerald of drawing his characters too much upon the templates of real people. Fitzgerald acknowledged these problems along with some more substantive ones, often wishing that he could have altered the chronology of the book or had been able to rewrite the final section. But the book stands today as a lyrical, insightful look into the cultural world of mannered aristocracy and the intimate life of a single, complicated couple....more
Great Britain and a few bit players met in Cairo in 1922 and carved up the southwest Asia. The ramifications of this event are still being felt today.Great Britain and a few bit players met in Cairo in 1922 and carved up the southwest Asia. The ramifications of this event are still being felt today. This is a well-researched exploration of the subject, but it is a bit too narrow in its focus. The database covered (mostly Winston’s own correspondence and cables) is a bit narrow, and the attempt to integrate the perspectives of other sources is valiant but insufficient. Still, this is a fascinating read and the information gained from the, again, overused resources is quite good.
The book provides a non-lionized portrait of the man. He is not so much a dynamic world figure as he is an ambitious politician and a penny-pincher who simply wanted to get a job done (get Britain out of paying for this region) and not do the best job for the future. He is entertaining, though, as his individualistic streak does play havoc with people from time to time.
There are a lot of parallels to the 2003-05 period that the author makes but does not overemphasize. The conflicting motives of being where you are not wanted, minimizing damage to reputation and forces, and having to answer for the use of resources back home characterize this period for Britain as well as 2003-05 for the USA in Iraq.
Oil did not seem to be as important a factor. While it was mentioned a few times and Churchill was himself aware of the need for oil resources for naval superiority, it did not loom large in his decision calculus.
I enjoyed the relish that the author demonstrated when debunking the version of events from T. E. Lawrence’s Pillars of Wisdom, and he was specific about which “Lawrence of Arabia” myths to pop. As a boy who had been much moved by that movie it gave me some chuckles of regret.
The author does show some restraint when generalizing from this historical event to the present. As it was being released in 2006 events were still to unfold.
I had some problems with this book but that was mainly because I wanted to know more. However, I was very satisfied by what I learned and would commend it highly. ...more
This book is subtitled "Love and Vengeance in Miami and Cuba" but it is less about love than it is about vengeance. Since the 1959 revolution that broThis book is subtitled "Love and Vengeance in Miami and Cuba" but it is less about love than it is about vengeance. Since the 1959 revolution that brought Castro to power over one million exiles have left Cuba. Most of them have taken residency in Miami where they have amassed great political and financial power working for over 40 years to end Fidel's rule. Bardach's exhaustive research uncovers the emotional and often violent tactics used by both sides in this historical battle. From the Bay of Pigs to the Cuban missile crisis to the Elian Gonzalas debacle she unmasks the aggression, the opportunism, the raw ambition and the self-interests at play. Her portrayal of the Miami cubans is especially unflattering. Thoroughly illuminating, if disheartening, this book is professionally crafted and filled with the kind of first hand reporting that brings history to life. It leaves you dumbfounded to realize what has been going on right under your nose, right in your own back yard. Bardach gathers her information from hundreds and hundreds of interviews and spells out a sordid story of strong arm politics that reaches from the near tyrannical leadership of the Miami Cuban American Foundation to the governor of Miami to the presidency (not all that great a span at the moment). It makes you a little less proud to be an American....more
The triumph of Tessa Bridal's 1997 novel, The Tree of Red Stars, is not that it introduces contemporary American readers to the political upheaval inThe triumph of Tessa Bridal's 1997 novel, The Tree of Red Stars, is not that it introduces contemporary American readers to the political upheaval in Uruguay in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, the political situation surrounding the events of the book is somewhat under-explained, left to function as a frightening shadow and not really examined in much detail. Like much in totalitarian countries, the political dynamic that drives the actions of the characters in this novel is shrouded behind a veil of lies and destroyed evidence. Read as a novel about Uruguayan history, this book can only hope to sensitize readers to the signs of what a government is like when it is in the process of turning against its citizens. However, the book is of even more immediate relevance to readers than that. It presents a universal story of how individuals are drawn into revolutionary causes. The natural process that the novel's protagonist, Magdalena Ortega Grey, undergoes is parallel to a political maturation that readers around the world can relate to in their own lives.
At first glance, Magda might seem to be a weak choice to be the narrator of a novel about social upheaval. She comes from a wealthy family, and her parents and extended family make certain that she is trained in the bourgeois values that fit upper-middle-class Uruguayan society. Because of her elevated social status, it would have been very easy to ruin the novel by portraying Magda's concerns falsely.
In every social movement that entails fighting for the rights of the oppressed, there are purists who have a difficult time accepting outsiders who have benefited from the rules made by the oppressors. The rich, according to them, could never experience the social outrage needed of true revolutionaries. Doubtlessly, many who have suffered from brutal regimes like the one described in this book would dismiss Magda. Bridal gives an example of this thinking in Laura, the girl who gives up her only boots when Magda is fleeing from the police. While mocking Magda's wealth, Laura sarcastically and correctly guesses that the rich girl's parents would never let her come to the area of town where Laura lives. She sees Magda as someone who is dabbling in revolution but is free to flee back to her own sheltered world when things turn bad. Magda, in fact, seems to feel the same way about herself: at the end of the story, when her grandmother tries to convince her that the best way to help free Marco is to go to Europe and publicize the events in Uruguay, Magda feels that leaving the country would be a cowardly act of abandonment.
While a wealthy character in a novel about revolution might be accused of being superficial, there is also the danger that a writer might be tempted to use a wealthy protagonist to overstate the revolutionary cause. A protagonist from the ranks of the oppressed might not allow a writer to bring out the vibrancy of the situation. An impoverished narrator would be familiar with the tactics that are used to keep all of her or his peers from revolting, but such characters would show less dramatic change when taking up the cause. Oppressed people tend to take a world-weary, jaded view toward their own situations, having gradually grown familiar with oppression on a daily basis. For a child raised in privilege, however, the moment of suddenly becoming aware of evil comes as a great shock. It is easy for novelists to shake up their readers by exposing governmental repression to the book's bourgeois protagonist (which, to some extent, actually is the structure of The Tree of Red Stars) who then becomes a zealous convert to political activism. Wisely, Bridal manages to make Magda a credible observer and participant, showing her commitment to political change to be something that, despite her upbringing, she is in fact able to feel sincerely. Used as she is here, the character of an upper-middle-class girl can be an excellent tool for showing readers what is involved in many levels of a society in turmoil. ...more