Realism and Magical Realism

Beth Marsh August 30, 2018

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-ND

The weekly readings are a selection from the Norton Anthology of World Literature, Third Edition-Vol. 2. The selections are from Latin American culture and include I speak of the City and Central Park by Octavio Paz, The Garden of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges, Walking Around by Pablo Neruda, Death Constant Beyond Love by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, and And of Clay Are We Created by Isabel Allende. The main theme of the readings is choice with realism and magical realism being the prominent literary devices used by the writers.

And of Clay Are We Created by Isabel Allende is a story about a little girl, Azucena, that is gets stuck in a mud pit after an earthquake hits her home in Columbia. Rolf Carle, a news reporter, chooses to go to the girl and try to help her out. The world begins watching the horrific events unfold as Rolf sits with Azucena for 3 days and nights as they slowly begin to give up hope. Rolf continually implores officials for a pump to drain the water to get her out, but it’s futile. The story has multiple passages that illustrate magical realism, for example, “I was so drained I felt as if I were staring through a telescope at the light of a star dead for a million years”. At some point in the story, the theme of choice becomes prominent again as Rolf thinks back on his past and how his pursuit of recognition and fame is only to hide his guilt towards his dead mentally challenged sister.

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

The theme of choice is an easy concept for high school students to learn as we all make choices constantly. You can choose from any of the stories listed here or choose a story you feel emphasizes the theme of choice. Have the students read the story and then discuss the choices in the story that lead the characters to more choices. Talk about choices of the protagonist, antagonist, and supporting characters that furthered the plot of the story. As an element of pop culture, have the student spick from a list of celebrities that have made unfortunate life choices and have them talk about what choices were made, why they think the choices were made, and what the celebrity could’ve done to change the outcome.


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