The Power of Words Two Words by Isabel Allende Echoes 11 pg. 236 - 244 BEFORE READING BACKGROUND Until the 1960s, Latin American literature had a small, mostly localized audience. Book publishers typically published only 3,000 copies of a novel. During the 1960s, however, Latin American writers began to reach larger audiences, thanks to the growth of Latin American literacy, advances in book publishing and distribution, and the development of multinational companies. Outstanding authors, such as Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Carlos Fuentes, sold as many as 20,000 copies of their works. Then in 1968 García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude broke entirely new ground, selling about 100,000 copies per year and creating a viable international market for other Latin American authors. Beginning in 1967, a series of Latin American authors won the Nobel Prize for Literature. These were Guatemalan novelist Miguel Ángel Asturias, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, Mexican novelist Gabriel García Marquez, and Mexican essayist and poet Octavio Paz. In the 1980s Latin American women writers claimed an international audience, too. Latin America already had several well-known women authors-Luisa Valenzuela, Elena Poniatowska, and Rosario Castellanos. In the 1980s a feminist literary movement began to develop that its chief proponent, Chilean writer Isabel Allende, said was unified by a common "dimension of emotion, passion, obsession, and dream." Allende, an exemplar of the style of "magic realism," became internationally famous with her best-selling first novel, House of the Spirits (1982; tr. 1985). Mexico's Laura Esquivel, author of Like Water for Chocolate (1989), also helped to create an international audience for Latin American women authors. DURING READING Use the STUDY GUIDE below as a way to work through the selection and improve your comprehension of the story. Write all answers in complete, well written sentences. Some questions will require paragraph answers. COMPREHENSION 1. In what ways are the life experiences of Belisa Crepusculario, El Mulato, and the Colonel similar? 2. In what ways are Belisa Crepusculario’s customers handicapped by their illiteracy and lack of vocabulary. The Power of Words Two Words by Isabel Allende Echoes 11 pg. 236 - 244 3. In your own words explain how and why the Colonel wants to change his life. 4. Why would a man such as the Colonel appeal to Belisa? What does she hope for him? TECHNIQUE 1. Explain in what ways this story is magical or mystical. 2. List two similes and two metaphors used in this story. ANALYSIS 1. Someone once said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Discuss this proverb in relation to the story, “Two Words.” In doing so, explain the meaning of the proverb and show how the story illustrates this meaning. 2. Belisa Crepusculario shows extreme confidence in her relationship with with El Mulato and the Colonel. What does she know about words that gives her such assurance? 3. Even though Belisa Crepusculario, El Mulato, and the Colonel share common experiences, they deal with them in very different ways. What do these differences tell us about the personalities of these three characters? CHARACTERIZATION 1. Explain how Belisa Crepusculario and El Mulato are character foils. 2. Which characters in this story are static and which are dynamic? How do the dynamic characters promote the Allende’s theme? The Power of Words Two Words by Isabel Allende Echoes 11 pg. 236 - 244 Character: The people who inhabit and take part in a story. When discussing character, as distinct from characterization, look to the essential function of the character, or of all the characters as a group, in the story as a whole. Foil: A character who is meant to represent characteristics, values, ideas, etc. which are directly and diametrically opposed to those of another character, usually the protagonist. (Although it is technically a literary element, the term is only useful for identification, as part of a discussion or analysis of character; it cannot generally be analyzed by itself.) The noble, virtuous father Macduff provides an ideal foil for the villainous, childless Macbeth Dynamic Character: is a character who is changed by the story. This character usually occurs in stories where the character is more important than the plot. Also known as active or round. Static Character: is a character who does not change…he or she has learned nothing from what has happened. These characters usually appear in stories where the plot is most important.