written by Isabel Allende
[I] pp. 230 – 245
Belisa Crepusculario is literally a self-made woman: she chose her own name and makes a living selling words. (She travels around selling everything from verses from memory to simple stories to secret words. Everyone knows and respects her.) Her fame, however, is a result of her fortitude: as a youth, hunger, heat, and exhaustion of centuries ate at her and killed four siblings; she decided to trick death by dragging herself to the sea’s water.
Belisa accidently discovers writing when a newspaper blows at her feet. She picks it up, curiously asking a stranger what it is. When she learns of the infinite power of the word, she realizes she can make a decente (234) profession of it, the alternative to being a prostitute or servant. She pays a priest to teach her, then, with her little remaining money, buys a dictionary. She reads then memorizes it, from A to Z, then throws it into the ocean; she doesn’t want to sell her clients packaged words.
One morning, the Colonel’s men, led by the feared giant El Mulato, come into town and kidnap Belisa. She is taken to el Coronel, el hombre más temido del país (237) (who, according to Belisa, is also be the loneliest man in the world). He says he wants to be president, to be loved and cheered. His appearance as colonel puts terror in people’s eyes, abortaban de susto las mujeres (238). He wants to win the peoples’ hearts for the elections, so asks her to write him a speech.
She begins to work. Descartó las palabras ásperas y secas, las demasiados floridas, las que estaban desteñidas (discolored) por el abuso, las que ofrecían promesas improbable, las carentes de (lacking) veradad y las confuses, para quedarse solo con aquéllas capaces de tocar con certeza el pensamiento de los hombres y la intuición de las mujeres (239). When she read it aloud, thrice, the soldiers’ and Colonel’s eyes glittered with enthusiasm.
Because of the speech’s cost, Belisa gives the Colonel two secret words. While giving him the words, Belisa exudes sexual richness, clearly turning the Colonel on.
The Colonel gives his speech with incredible effectiveness: the townspeople estaban deslumbrados por la claridad de sus proposiciones y la lucidez poética de sus argumentos, contagiados de su deseo tremendo de corregir los errors de la historia y alegres por primera vez en sus vidas (242). Despite the success, the Colonel becomes extremely obsessed with the secret words; the Mulato is forced to find Belisa to undo her witchcraft. She had been waiting. And, upon arrival, all the men knew the witchcraft would not be undone porque todos pudieron ver los ojos carnívoros del puma tornarse mansos (soften) cuando ella avanzó y le tomó la mano (244).
-el machismo, la lucha por el poder entre los sexos
-ganar y perder en el juego del amor: la passion entre el hombre y la mujer
-el cuento fantástico del siglo XIX y del siglo XX