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Latin American Short Stories

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A Tale of "Two Words"

Have you ever read a story where the theme is not really apparent, or it is hidden in a cryptic passage of text? The short story, "Two words" by Isabel Allende is a story that is unclear in many aspects. There is a message that comes across when you look close at the text as if you would need a magnifying glass to see the hidden theme. The theme is seen in the story when you look at the idea that a whole heart will bloom like a flower while a half-heart will only wilt. This analogy, referring to the life cycles of a flower, illustrates the idea that a person cannot always be judged by their looks, but by their heart. You must look deep at someone's heart and see the true essence of their being. In the story, a man who is regarded as a brute that will never fall in love falls in love with a mystical woman who later finds him to be a helpless romantic.

The theme of looking at a person's heart is seen throughout the book many times. Allende accomplishes this task of making the reader looking at a person's heart. The first example of not judging a character by their body is when the main character is introduced. The main character is said to have had make a living by selling words - "She made her living selling words."(Allende, 39) Later on in the story it goes onto say that she works by traveling to other villages selling words and selling phrases. Many think she is dishonest... selling words to innocent people. Although the author tells soon after that the main character, Belisa Crepusculario is an honest woman, trying to make an honest living. The author uses Belisa's career to illustrate the fact that Belisa is a good woman, and that she is passionate about everything she does, Belisa puts her whole heart into her work and she does not try to cheat people thus showing that Belisa has a whole heart.

In a conversation would the phrase "collective deceit" normally be said (Allende, 40)? What about "She gave the gift of a secret word to drive away melancholy" (Allende, 40)? The author uses these words to illustrate how Belisa makes a living, selling words. The style that the author uses is just as important as the idea behind the phrases. The phrase "collective deceit" uses a style of words that is understandable to most people, but is of higher level vocabulary. This type of diction is used throughout most of the story. The author wants to be able to relate on a lower level to people. The second phrase "She gave the gift of a secret word to drive away melancholy" is very important. First most people (at least I didn't) know what the word melancholy means. Melancholy means "a feeling of thoughtful sadness"(Princeton). It is interesting that the author uses a high level vocabulary word to describe the emotions of the characters.

Style plays a role because it dictates how the reader perceives a certain passage of text from the story. If you altered a phrase from the story and gave the new story to your friend they usually will perceive the story different even if you used synonyms to the original story. The reader perceives what is being said differently when changed because it triggers different feelings, emotions, mental images and ideas of what that word(s) mean. Style is important to this story because it helps develop the theme. Style also helps develops the perception of a character.

When looking at theme, there are two other primary points. One point of theme is the Chief. The Chief is the right hand man to El Mulato, the leader of the local army. While Belisa is traveling throughout the country

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