Hurricane Schedule/Assignments

Wow, no class on Wednesday! We can use our time thinking about how to help Haiti and reading more Cortazar stories. Try “The Distances” – it’s about a rich, perhaps spoiled girl in Buenos Aires who begins to share consciousness with a poor, miserable woman in Budapest. Until…(as you can imagine) something strange happens…like all stories it is about many things, and perhaps about empathy.

However, the stories I asked you to read for Wednesday were “House Taken Over” and “Bestiary.” These two are  different from Cortazar’s other stories that we have read;  in both of them, something strange/unknown invades the usually safe home space. Sadly, we won’t be able to spend much of Monday’s class on them because we have to start 100 Years of Solitude, but I’d love to know what you’re thinking about them. So in lieu of tomorrow’s class, please post a short comment to this post on one or both of these stories:

  1. “House Taken Over” – What do YOU think takes the House over?!
  2. “Bestiary” –  Is the tiger a tiger – or something else?

And don’t forget your Short Writing on Cortazar! Due Sunday night. You can use ANY stories in the book.

Next week, we start reading our big novel, 100 Years of Solitude by the Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is a wild read and can be difficult, but try to just enjoy its rich, playful style. It’s organic – he starts a sentence, and it just grrrroooooowwwws.  It is a uniquely imaginative book, and it changed the world. Marquez freely admitted he wouldn’t have been without Borges and Cortazar, but it was this book that burst  into the universe in 1967 and brought Magic Realism to the people. Go to Russia. Go to China. Go to France. Everywhere they will know and love Garcia Marquez. Hemingway who?

I’ve made a reading schedule for the book that tells the main thing I want to concentrate on in each section, so it gives you a guide on where to concentrate as you read!

8 M 1010 Gabriel Garcia Marquez –100 Years of Solitude – Read the first Chapter 1-18 Introduction/ Magic Realism in Latin America
W 10/12 Gabriel Garcia Marquez –100 Years of Solitude 19-58 The Insomnia Plague
F 10/14 Gabriel Garcia Marquez –100 Years of Solitude 59-101 Love
9 M 10/17 Gabriel Garcia Marquez –100 Years of Solitude 103-159 Death
W 10/19 Gabriel Garcia Marquez –100 Years of Solitude 161-180 War
F 10/21 Gabriel Garcia Marquez –100 Years of Solitude 181-243 Beauty
10 M 10/24 Gabriel Garcia Marquez –100 Years of Solitude –245-313 The Banana Massacre / Witness and memory Film – Rashomon 3-5 SUV
W 10/26 Gabriel Garcia Marquez –100 Years of Solitude – 315-354  Ursula – Family
F 10/28 Gabriel Garcia Marquez –100 Years of Solitude –355-417 The astounding end

33 thoughts on “Hurricane Schedule/Assignments

  1. Danielle Fladger October 5, 2016 / 4:09 am

    1. “House Taken Over” – What do YOU think takes the House over?!

    I think that the brother who is the narrator lost his fiancé a long time ago could be the one who is taking over the house. She could be coming back to help what would have been her husband house and cleaning and those type of things.

    2. “Bestiary” – Is the tiger a tiger – or something else?

    The “tiger” in the story could possibly be the main character Isabel. Maybe the character isn’t supposed to have a deeper meaning. The tiger may just be there to open the eyes of the readers to get them wondering and thinking. Lastly the tiger could really actually be a tiger and be there to scare the people of this house to make them stay away from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Zach Thomas October 5, 2016 / 2:14 pm

    While rereading this, it seemed to me that the “taking over” of the house could very well be the underactive, well-heeled couple’s imaginations getting the best of them in a big, weird house. We are told that the noises are “a chair being knocked over onto the carpet or the muffled buzzing of a conversation” (13). In this minimal way, the tension reminds me of the original version of the Haunting, any number of Poe stories (except no one is killed in the end), or Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf. We simply aren’t told what it is, thus whatever presence in the house, if there is any at all, remains almost amorphous and vague by design.

    I also found it odd that the relationship’s incestuous nature is only mentioned twice and the lineage of the family (as it is an inherited house) is mentioned only peripherally. It could easily be the ghosts of old relatives as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • aoldfield375 October 6, 2016 / 5:22 pm

      Yes – the idea of “house” can also be that of a family lineage, like the “house of usher” – this lineage has definitely run into a dead end! The ghosts of dead relatives seems likely too.


  3. Francesca Donio October 5, 2016 / 2:52 pm

    “House Taken Over” confused me a bit because I could not understand what was taking over the house. It was such a peaceful setting with a brother and sister living together in harmony and routine. I didn’t understand why they just accepted their house being taken over, without exploring the reason or trying to solve it. The house obviously meant very much to them, but they did not fight for it. My only guess is that whatever was taking over the house must have been so evil or haunting that they wouldn’t even try to fight against it.

    In “Bestiary” The Kid is killed by the tiger because the girl lies about which room the tiger is in. In this story, I had a hard time trying to figure out who The Kid actually was and why he was there. At first I thought that he was Rema’s brother and Nino’s uncle, but than later in the story Nino called Rema his aunt. Everyone fears The Kid and the only one who seems to be upset about his death is Luis, which lead me to think maybe he was Luis’ brother. Although, the reason why Luis may have been upset about The Kids death could have been because he was blind to may of the mean things The Kid did. In the story, The Kid uses intimidation to make Rema lie about things that go on, like him beating Nino. It seems that The Kid is fine with making everyone else angry, but not Luis.

    Liked by 1 person

    • aoldfield375 October 6, 2016 / 5:54 pm

      You really caught on to the ambiguity of both stories – neither have a clear answer, and in both we get a really limited view! In Bestiary since our point of view is Isabel, so so much information is left out!


  4. Tavis Ravenel October 5, 2016 / 4:33 pm

    1. “House Taken Over” – What do YOU think takes the House over?
    I personally think no one has taken over the house, I think because they have been there so long that the idea of a noise makes the brother nervous. The sister never says oh yeah I believe you, she just goes along with him and leaves. I really think they are paranoid, there is never any evidence that people or anything is ever seen. I really think the sister knew that was here way of getting out of the house and seeing the world so she jumped at the opportunity. Doing the same thing each day was boring, the brother however was fine with it. In the story the sister came off as fed up and over it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • aoldfield375 October 6, 2016 / 5:55 pm

      We never get the sister’s point of view, though the brother keeps saying she’s happy – I like your reading, she may well have been fed up!


  5. Ashley Canter October 5, 2016 / 6:26 pm

    The entities “taking over” the house could be the memory of the brother and sister’s ancestors whom the house originally belonged to. Perhaps the brother and sister’s memory of their deceased loved ones is haunting them as a psychological aspect of loss (i.e. ghosts that only exist within the brother and sister’s psychological realms). This would explain why all the descriptions of the sounds and movements in the house seem to be told from the inner thoughts of the brother and sister. Along the line of this theory, the conclusion of the story in which they leave the home could be their realization that the home and all of their belongings, which they leave without, remind them too much- to the degree of haunting- of the family members that they have lost.

    Also, I am perplexed by how much the sister’s knitting is emphasized in the story. It is almost as if the brother cares about the task of her knitting to the point of fetishizing this practice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • aoldfield375 October 6, 2016 / 5:58 pm

      Yes – I’ve always wondered about the knitting, and also her drawer of knitted things that the brother finds. I have thought about Odysseus’ wife Penelope, who kept knitting and then undoing the knitting to keep away suitors until her husband returned, but that doesn’t cover it! The knitting creates excess meaning – always interesting!


  6. Ashley Canter October 5, 2016 / 6:31 pm

    The entities “taking over” the house could be the memory of the brother and sister’s ancestors whom the house originally belonged to. Perhaps the brother and sister’s memory of their deceased loved ones is haunting them as a psychological aspect of loss (i.e. ghosts that only exist within the brother and sister’s psychological realms). This would explain why all the descriptions of the sounds and movements in the house seem to be told from the inner thoughts of the brother and sister. Along the line of this theory, the conclusion of the story in which they leave the home could be their realization that the home and all of their belongings, which they leave without, remind them too much- to the degree of haunting- of the family members that they have lost.


  7. Christopher Johnson October 5, 2016 / 10:14 pm

    In “Bestiary,” I do not that that we ever get any information to symbolize or represent the tiger as an idea or another character. My blackbox wanted to make the tiger the kid, but it became clear mid-way that it was an altogether separate entity. I do not think the writer wants us to find meaning in it. It is just an unknown, alien entity that is thrown into the mix. Isabel, too, is an outsider within this family; in a way, she is like the tiger too because she challenges the norms going on in the family by confronting the kid, with the lemonade and at the end by lying about the location of the tiger.

    I feel the family, like the ants that they trap, is trapped by the presence of the kid and not the tiger; and I see that because Rema insists on black ants, which are fairly docile. The snails seems to represent a coming out as the family is lifted from the shadow of the kid, but now I am not sure if I should even try to symbolize in a Cortazar story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • aoldfield375 October 6, 2016 / 6:02 pm

      I think you are onto something with the ants – like they in the house are like the ants under the glass! It is tricky to find symbolism in COrtazar – not that it isn’t there (or maybe ‘affinities’ rather than symbols), but there is always an excess – too many possible interpretations!


  8. Yaicha Ocampo October 6, 2016 / 1:44 am

    In “House Taken Over,” I was really puzzled by the brother’s obsession with his sister’s, Irene’s, knitting. Their relationship also reminds me of something readers would see in Poe with fetishes and suggestions of inbreeding. Also, I became really puzzled when he mentioned that something had taken over the back part of the house. I should have been expecting a supernatural or magic element, since this class is Magic Realism, but I was not expecting something to be with them in the house, especially since the narrator and Irene are freely and constantly cleaning it. At the end of the story, I was really disappointed that there was no hint or description of what had taken over the house.

    In “Bestiary,” there were many elements that confused me. The main question I kept pondering was the existence of the lion; I could not determine if it was real. At first, I thought the lion was actually Kid because of his predatory nature, especially towards Rema. I found their relationship very confusing as the story developed. I thought there may be a weird love triangle between her, Louis and Kid, but I am not sure. With the death of Kid at the end of the story, I lean more towards the lion being its own entity, but then it begs the question: where did it come from? But, I suppose that is the magical element in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • aoldfield375 October 6, 2016 / 6:05 pm

      Yes, “House Taken Over” is really open – even the descriptions of the entity (?) are unclear- add your own monster! In the second story, the monster is clear, but it is still confusing – though I think you are right about the love triangle and the kid’s “predatory nature” – a good way to think about it is what does the writer want to do with these unexplained elements/ what can they add?


  9. Alison Lane October 6, 2016 / 2:59 am

    I loved House Taken Over! From the start it reminded me of Fall of The House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe, so my reading might be a bit biased. I think Cortazar’s story has the same strange incest tones that Poe’s does, along with the two being isolated in a large, inherited family home. I think there are a couple ways to read this in terms of figuring out what’s taken over. There is the issue of inheritance from the start, both the narrator and his sister seem very emotionally attached to the house and hate to think of their cousins tearing it down or selling for profit. It’s very difficult to get a read on how much time has passed once the take over starts, and we know both are in their forties at the start, so it’s very possible that this anxiety that spreads through the house is the two aging while the cousins gain more control over the estate. At the end it could be the two of them passing or simply losing the property to family, which would mean they’ve lost “everything” in the sense that they’re very connected to the house. You could also take it to be family pressure or societal pressure. Both are well beyond marrying age living with each other, and appear to have no desire to attempt to marry. The takeover could be the two literally being forced out either by family or pressure to marry. I feel that this reading is supported because the narrator describes the other presence saying ” a chair being knocked over onto the carpet or the muffled buzzing of a conversation” (Cortazar 13). This is not the sound or robbers, but it could very well be the sound of family/neighbors discussing the strange and possibly unacceptable living situation. The last reading, that may be a bit far fetched but it reminds me of Fall of The House of Usher so here goes, is the house taking over. The text supports this reading in a few ways. As the narrator begins to tell this story he starts to refer to the house as if referring to another characters saying “commune with the great hollow, silent house” and “But it’s the house I want to talk about, the house and Irene” (Cortazar 11). There’s also foreshadowing from the start “We would die here someday” (Cortazar 11). Not to mention the narrator’s Freudian slip that blames the house for neither of them marrying, his would be fiance dying mysteriously and Irene turning down two suitors for no seeming reason. Their relationship to the house, along with the atmosphere, shifts immensely with the two of them living more like captives stuck in the front section of the house. Their final push out reminds me of the final scene in Fall of The House of Usher when you’re left wondering whether the house really collapsed into the lake or if it was the narrator’s imagination. The two could have been isolated by this house with it’s own presence and power, or it could all be their own anxieties.

    Liked by 1 person

    • aoldfield375 October 6, 2016 / 6:10 pm

      Cortazar loved Poe, so I think you are on to something with the comparison to Usher – though this version is a lot more mysterious! SUpporting your reading to is House as lineage, family. You pointing out that line “we will die here” suddenly made me wonder if they did die, somehow? ak!


  10. Jeremiah Johnson October 6, 2016 / 3:38 pm

    House Taken Over – What do YOU think the House over?!

    I think that what takes over the house is intentionally left vague so that the reader can fill in the blanks with their own imagination. The narrator’s use of “or” seems to be significant in his description. He says “I heard something in either the library or the dining room. The word “or” is italicized to give more emphasis, and this use of or continues in his description of the sound. I think in terms of the story it doesn’t matter what takes over the house, only what the reader thinks it is. My own personal theory is that it’s a kind of paranoia or mental illness where they think they hear a noise and react accordingly, as much as I usually hate the use of mental illness as a plot line and see it as a cop out I feel like it’s likely in this case. It seems especially likely with the unclear and pseudo-sexual relationship between the narrator and his sister and the seeming implication of this being a tradition within the family. However what takes over the house could just as easily be people or ghosts, or any number of things. I think the genius of the story is that it gives you options, leaves the answer vague and leaves you to figure out what happened on your own. It follows the formula of proper horror and leaves enough to the imagination that you fill in the blanks yourself, making it whatever you fear yourself rather than a specific entity.

    Sorry my comment is a little late, I went with the students that evacuated the university so from 6 am to midnight on Wednesday I was busy and away from a computer for too long to do anything.


    • aoldfield375 October 6, 2016 / 5:19 pm

      No problem. I like your idea about the reader filling in the blanks.


  11. Jaimie Mataosky October 6, 2016 / 10:18 pm

    “House Taken Over” – What do you think took over the house?

    I don’t think it was necessarily that the house was taken over but that the family line was coming to the end. The narrator starts the story by talking about all the family that had lived there and how Irene and himself were never married. They weren’t sure why; she had suitors and he was engaged but she died before they could marry. I think their family ghost wanted the family line to come to an end so they took over the house so no other family could live there. I believe this family ghost also was the reason they both never married. Maybe the ghost wanted to live at the house by themselves.

    Also I apologize if this is late. I was driving all day yesterday and didn’t check my email until just now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • aoldfield375 October 7, 2016 / 4:49 pm

      No problem – I didn’t really make a due date. Family ghosts can be powerful, whether they are real or not!


  12. Krysten Elliott October 7, 2016 / 1:12 am

    1. House Taken Over

    I think the “they” in the story are ghosts or spirits of their family’s deceased. I got this vibe because of descriptions of the house. The narrator describes the house as being “old and spacious” and says that “it kept the memories” of his and Irene’s past family members. Both times the narrator hears sounds at night, he describes them as being “muffled” and “indistinct,” and reacts in an incredibly frightened manner by bolting the door – even ditching the house as a whole when he hears them the second time. I assumed the sounds were ghosts of their past family members, since they are claiming the house as their own, because it technically was their home when they were living. The sounds are also only heard at nighttime.

    Liked by 1 person

    • aoldfield375 October 7, 2016 / 6:14 pm

      I also got a creepy vibe about the family, though the narrator is so deadpan, you kind of have to look past him to find it!


  13. Elizabeth Tabor October 7, 2016 / 3:36 am

    First of all, I apologize if this is late, but I was driving home for a large majority of the day yesterday and didn’t get to my email until very late in the evening.

    In “House Taken Over”. it seems to be very odd take on the expression “If these walks could talk” with the exception that the walls of this house are doing more than just talking-they’re taking seemingly random objects right out from the noses of those living within their/the house’s confines. At the time that the story is going on it seems that it has been going on for so long that it’s driving one of those currently living in the home(the brother) to madness while the other(the sister) is caught between being in their own little world and thus not phased by all that is going on around her during the day but at night she’s one of the many things in the home being possessed by the dearly departed whose voice(s) are heard by the brother. Cortazar tells the story through the brother in such a way that it can be a bit difficult at first for the reader to know for sure what or who are the ones trying to overrun the house and to a certain degree we join in the insanity that he is going through in both trying to solve that mystery as well as dealing with it. Personally, I think that it is either all in the brother’s head (perhaps his imagination or maybe some bad memories he had of the relatives who had previously lived there), or it was indeed the ghosts of his relatives coming in to ensure that no one but blood relations would live in that house causing the family line to end with the brother and sister. I read the story twice and couldn’t think of any other possibility aside from how it’s either all in the mind of the brother or it really is the family haunting him, the sister and the house from beyond the grave. It struck me as a mix of an Edgar Allen Poe tale and one of the “Paranormal Activity” films.

    Liked by 1 person

    • aoldfield375 October 7, 2016 / 6:18 pm

      I like the combination of Poe and paranormal. But if its all in his head, why does she leave?!


      • aoldfield375 October 7, 2016 / 6:19 pm

        No problem on timing – I didn’t give a due date.


  14. Diondra Williams October 7, 2016 / 5:52 pm

    In the short story House Taken Over I feel that nothing has really taken over the house..except their own imagination. After being in a place for so long and having such a dry, routine I could see how it would drive one to believe that something has so called taken over. Their own sad lives, and regrets have taken over the house.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Lindsay October 8, 2016 / 12:02 am

    Hey there everyone, sorry I am just now getting to posting this. I am out of town thankfully but I just got internet…I’ve about to lose my mind without it:)

    First in House Taken Over I could not get over the connection to House of Usher by Poe out of my mind. (It might be because I’m studying that in another class.) I do wonder if the thought of “taking over” could be just in the mind, I mean I know there are tons of stories where the narrator or main character is in fact just having a nervous break down, ‘hearing’ voices, ‘seeing’ things move or stuff like that. I would say that they eventually leave just because of the paranoia, It really sounds like a truly good spooky October Halloween tale.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. aoldfield375 October 8, 2016 / 2:49 pm

    That’s cool you’re studying Poe in another class – Cortazar loved him. It is like a spooky tale, since there is no real solution!


  17. Veronica Good October 10, 2016 / 1:50 am

    In “House Taken Over” I think that the presence that is taking over the house could be the lost potential of the brother and sister. Neither of them married, and neither of them work. They just sit around the house cleaning or entertaining themselves with their own hobbies. They have settled into the house and into themselves until the presence kicks them out of the house altogether forcing them to do something else. I think the piece speaks about an inability to truly be content without change, and even though the try to be content in their mindlessly practical routines, they cannot truly be happy the way they are, so their lost potential forces it on them. It is also interesting to me that without the sister’s viewpoint, we see the narrator running away from something that he clearly finds dull yet valuable.He is the only one that goes out, so his desire for something more is greater (and evident in his chagrin when describing his almost-wife), so it could also be the narrator trying to get out of a life in which he only observes his sister instead of going out and doing things.

    In “Bestiary” I think the tiger is just a tiger. Even though it is not realistic that a family would be living with a tiger in this way, this is magic realism and the point is not to trick the reader but to make something unbelievable believable. I think Cortázar does just that. The tiger is a tiger, but it serves to show that there is real danger in everyday life, but that it does not always come in the way you expect. The tiger is mostly just a nuisance until Isabel lies about the tiger’s location which leads to the death of the kid and eventually her own death (karma???). This also displays a wariness of trust and that sometimes your own worst enemy can be yourself.


  18. MacKenzie McKeithan-Prickett October 13, 2016 / 8:27 pm

    I had to read “The House Taken Over” twice as I had thought I had misread it and overlooked who ‘they’ were. After reading it the second time I realized I had not and then originally believed that maybe ‘they’ were termites because the house was old and had a lot of wood in it. I then remembered the idea of the conversation and realized that termites cannot talk. Also, if ‘they’ were termites why didn’t the Irene and the brother just call an exterminator. Upon pondering this I started to think maybe ‘they’ were intruders/burgerlers but then again why did Irene and the brother not just call the police. I then came to the conclusion that ‘they’ must be ghosts of some sort as again the house is really old and ghosts have been reported to appear in old houses and when the brother stated that ‘they’ had taken over Irene knew exactly who ‘they’ were. My question is that if Irene knew exactly who ‘they’ were and the family did not seem shocked for their arrival why did the family not have important stuff put aside in order for them to grab if ‘they’ did inhabit the house and how come an intruder would be able to come in (if the brother had not tossed the key) but the family could not?

    I read “Bestiary” after I read “The House Taken Over” and I believe this is why I suspected the first mention of a tiger, other than the mention by Ines their mother. I believe since my original idea behind the ‘they’ in “The House Taken Over” was not what I thought it would be that I decided the tiger is not really a tiger. I have no idea what the tiger in this story is other than maybe ghosts again but I do believe it was referred to as a tiger to help the kids understand not to interfere with it and to always listen to the foreman. This reference was probably implemented as a tiger is a dangerous animal and if the family had referred to whatever was terrorizing the house as what it actually is, for example ghosts, that the children would try to investigate it as they were very curious children.


  19. Autumn Rivers October 17, 2016 / 3:13 am

    Maybe I am not a “deep thinker” when it comes to reading, but in Bestiary I think that the Tiger could actually just be a tiger; however, I do also think that the Tiger could be symbolic of the dangers that exist in the world; always there, constantly lingering and ever changing location and direction, but also avoidable the majority of the time if you pay attention to where you are going and head the advice of others.

    In House Taken Over I think that it was honestly in their minds. I think that the house being taken over was the narrators way to cope with living in the house every day and doing the same things over and over. The house slowly becomes taken over and he is the only one to every really notice that the house is being taken over. I do not think that the narrator was content with living in the house, whereas his sister, Irene had been content with doing the same things every day and then retiring to her knitting. I think that the narrator may have made the creatures taking the house over up in order to leave the house and feel justified for doing so.


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