Isabel Allende "Two Words"

The Power of Words
Two Words
by Isabel Allende
Echoes 11 pg. 236 - 244
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.
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.
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
4. Why would a man such as the Colonel appeal to Belisa? What does she
hope for him?
1. Explain in what ways this story is magical or mystical.
2. List two similes and two metaphors used in this story.
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?
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.