fiction files redux discussion

Short Story Group Reads > The Feather Pillow by Horacio Quiroga

Comments Showing 1-19 of 19 (19 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod

Let's get this party started! As soon as I get home.

message 2: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
OK. So.

The story is called The Feather Pillow. So I'm thinking that at least part of the point is the pillow, that masked the creature sucking the life out of Alicia.

But why is the creature there? How did it get there?

And that it's normally a parasite of birds...

So, is this about freedom and love?

I think so.

But I'm always going to say everything is about love.

message 3: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
And by the way, yes. I squirmed. And I am not the squirmy type. At all.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

The oppresive household restricted thier love for each other and eventually sucked the life out of both of them. Definitely about freedom and love. Also, I thought of Poe half way through the story.

message 5: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (last edited Mar 01, 2010 04:34PM) (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
That's how I felt. As though the hands of love and passion were being tied behind their backs. It was cold and hard to read, especially when I felt like they were sublimating so extremely:

Suddenly Jordan, with deep tenderness, ran his hand very slowly over her head, and Alicia instantly burst into sobs, throwing her arms around his neck. For a long time she cried out all the fears she had kept silent, redoubling her weeping at Jordan's slightest caress. Then her sobs subsided, and she stood a long while, her face hidden in the hollow of his neck, not moving or speaking a word.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Freedom to Love!

message 7: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Exactly! I've been pondering that one so much lately. This story comes to me like... synchronicity!

I'm still stuck on the title, though. The thing that hid the horrible parasite.

Why is that the title of the story?

message 8: by Bonita (new)

Bonita (NMBonita) | 120 comments I loved this story. So unexpected!

I read some of the background on the author before reading the story and still, I was surprised. After a second read, here's what I'm thinking...

When the couple married, the husband provided everything, the home (sterile), the surroundings (cold), the furnishings (museum-like). Her new world was a reflection of her spouse.

I think the feather pillow is equal to the husband himself. "He loved her profoundly but never let it be seen." He couldn't show his love for his wife and because of that, she was drained of her love for him.
But why is it called the feather pillow?

Why is the husband like that feather pillow?
I'm wondering if feather pillows were ordinary for those times or if they were a luxury.
Was the husband all fluff?

Maybe he appeared to be an ordinary man on the outside, but something inside him - something hideous and evil and beyond his control - sucked the life out of the one he loved the most.

message 9: by João (last edited Mar 02, 2010 09:19AM) (new)

João Torres (jcamilo) | 259 comments Quiroga is a huge fan of Poe, basically, the first hyspanic author to bring Poe to there with his own work. But also Maupassant. If there is the unexplained premissed (a pillow who hides a parasite which the husband cannt see), there is Maupassant dryness of dialogue. Do not seek extremelly hidden meanings, it is Poe fan we are talking. The effect is more important than causes (how, why, not relevant).

Notice how similar it is to Dracula chapters about Lucy being sucked dry by Dracula while nobody notices.

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Freedom to Love requires reason & logic and instinct. But mostly courage.

message 11: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod

This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.

Right, there is the whole sense of blood, of life force, being removed from her. Of life being removed from her because the giving was not accepted.

Or maybe there's something more sinister, as Bonita suggests. I do believe there are people out there to whom we give various names - takers, emotional vampires, and other silly nomenclature - but people who take our energy and use it for themselves.

Otherwise, why a parasite that normally infects birds?

message 12: by João (new)

João Torres (jcamilo) | 259 comments well, of course, it is in a feather pillow, it must be a bird parasite. Otherwise it would not be logical, the thing would hide somewhere else.

So, it is a bird parasite,because the only thing that would hide in a feather pillow and the danger is the pillow who can hide in plain faice, like a certain letter...

Plus, to a south american, a crab, a mosquito, etc are quite more dangerous than bats. Anyways, if I recall well this story was in the Cuentos de locura, amor e muerte.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

There it was something harmless, a luxury?, pretty even. Just a pillow hiding a killer. scary. All of my pillows are synthetic. Hahaha... I read and liked the study guide with the writers background. Very similar to Poe's love of Death. I don't remember any Maupassant. I'll search for a link.

message 14: by Bonita (new)

Bonita (NMBonita) | 120 comments When I think Poe, I think of mood and tone of the story. I like how Quiroga set the tone. He holds us to this cold, unsettling residence without giving too much away. She's uncomfortable, but in love. He's also in love but cannot show it in a way she would like. And he is a victim too because he couldn't fix it. The guy always wants to "fix it" and when the husband can't make her better (or make someone else fix it) or take the pain away from his wife, he sees it as a personal failure.

message 15: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Excellent point, Bonita.

Makes me think of the gulf between man and woman.

But I think about that so much these days that I'm afraid I'm projecting!

message 16: by João (new)

João Torres (jcamilo) | 259 comments Ok, if Quiroga was a modern cheap hollywood movie student, the pillow would have teeht and just bite the woman off, now he is not. So he needs a excuse to tell the story of pillow who eat people.

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

is this story reflecting his obbsession with death in nature. Random death. Often harsh and cruel.??

message 18: by Bonita (new)

Bonita (NMBonita) | 120 comments Yeah... I think it is reflecting death and nature and his inability to deal with its cruelty - or stop it from happening.

message 19: by João (new)

João Torres (jcamilo) | 259 comments Well, Quiroga was morbid. I recall very few short stories in the Cuentos de amor, morte e loucura that arent about death. Included a fable with dogs trying to keep death far from their owner. The one was a love story, very strange that makes me recall Isaak Dinensen about a woman who was mad for a days and a guy who helped her, she said she loved him, but next day she was cured and he could not tell if she did remember or not, and since they are from a traditional family, he dared not to ask.

back to top