Hey! Don’t forget to read earlier entries on this novel – they are helpful, and contain instructions and plans – and links to additional study questions – those are good.
Notice the epigraph, from an ancient Mayan text. We went from Deuteronomy (on suffering, essentially) to Shelley (on “scenting life”), to this, about freeing oneself, getting on the road, and shedding unnecessary burdens.
viii. Argument with Mouche about going or not. She feigns illness. He ignores her. They are going backwards in time and everything has new proportions. Nature is greater than man (like in Sarmiento’s pampas). They get to a village which reminds him of El Toboso in the Quixote, i.e. in a book of early 17th century Spain, that was excerpted in one of his elementary school readers. It is the town where the hero’s lover lives. They then rescue from altitude sickness a beautiful, mixed race woman who resembles a figure in ancient Greek art (considered, in turn, to resemble a Parisian woman). She seems to communicate most immediately with him. He thinks that mixed race people may be superior. They establish themselves for the night in another village, very humble. He is feeling more and more natural, more and more as he did when he was a child. Mouche goes to bed. He runs into the beautiful woman again – Rosario. She has been on a mission of devotion – literally – on behalf of her father. She is beautiful and pure. He contemplates the fire (as ancient people did). He has not done this in a long time.
ix – xvii (brief summary – see specifics, just below). He is coming into more and more contact with himself. He thinks about life and Europe; from it, his father remembers civilization, but he remembers barbarism. Meantime they start traveling up the river. They get to where Rosario lives. Her father has died and there is an emotional funeral. But now she is, in a sense, free. The narrator is obsessed with her, and is happy that Mouche invites her to keep traveling with them. There are other interesting characters and allusions to the Odyssey – in which, as you know, Odysseus is on his tortuous way home. By the end of this section events have accumulated and he has rough sex that seals their bodies together in a sort of pact that may be “el comienzo de un nuevo modo de vivir” [sic]. The last page of section xvii reads almost like soft porn!!! Sex, we remember, hasn’t worked out too well with Mouche on this trip since she is always sick. Rosario, on the other hand, desires the narrator, and he caresses her “con mano de amo.” With this gesture he “cierra una gozosa confluencia de sangres que se encontraron.”
ix. He is still sitting by the fire, contemplating it like a primitive man, after a conversation with Rosario in which she seems like a magical prehistoric woman connected with a living Nature. He hears a band play the first movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony.
xviii. They send Mouche back with the doctor. He gives the doctor almost all his money – money isn’t necessary in the jungle (where he has “become Tarzan?”). Rosario serves him as a true man deserves, and everyone sees it. She is his house, he is her dweller [sic]. The friar wants the narrator to get married; the narrator can’t say, of course, that he already is and in a “rito hereje” (not in the Catholic church). The Greek miner has a copy of the Odyssey with him and seems like a character in it – because, in part, of the ancient Mediterranean way he dresses the boar he has hunted. This section ends, once again, with a rather overdone passage on sex with Rosario. They are getting naturally better at it – they are inventing their own secret language – she calls him by his name (note that up until now he hasn’t had one, and we don’t know his name). They (and four others) are traveling now in two primitive canoes, navigating by the stars.