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The Schoolteacher’s Guest

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The Schoolteacher’s Guest tells the story of Ines, a retired schoolteacher who runs the first hotel in the town, Agua Santa. Her son had previously been killed and his murderer had fled. Years later the murderer returns. Ines kills him and confesses to her best friend Riad Halabi. They bury the body and the whole community help to keep it a secret. It is set in Latin America. The town is described as being quiet, uneventful and cut off from the mainstream of activity; an ‘insignificant backwater’. The community is depicted as being friendly, characters ‘waving, as usual.’ The climate is hot as ‘the hour of the mosquitoes’ is mentioned in the story and mosquitoes are limited to warm climates. We also are told it is ‘on the edge of the jungle.’ The community in this story is very close and they look out for each other. People respect each other and ‘secrets are kept by good neighbors.’

How much respect you have in the community is not defined by how much money you have or how important your job is. In the story Ines is described as ‘mightier than that of the priest, the doctor, or the police.’ The structure of this story has a huge effect on how well the story achieves its presentation of the community and other parts in this story. The story starts with a shock but the opening becomes less distressing as the story is explained. Also the way the story moves around in time means the story has more of an impact. The way that the events are set out means at first the story is shocking but then The Schoolteacher’s Guest, characters are shocked by the death but it does not seem overly significant. Ines was more concerned with ‘calculating that it would take at least two days to wash out the stains and at least two more to rid the room of its odor.’ Also the stories show how much ‘authority’ certain people have and whether this is affected by the expectations of society. The writer seemed to be focused on history and culture of theirsociety and also how females are presented.

They are telling the stories within a cultural context from which the writers, themselves, came from. Overall I think the Author were trying to show how political, cultural and social issues affect people. I think the stories show how the characters refuse to remain the victim becomes calm and less distressing. The reader is also shocked by how calm Ines is. Even though she has committed a murder she shows no remorse or distress. The way the writer uses magic realism in descriptions makes the writing more powerful. She uses it to describe things, which you wouldn’t have looked at in that way before. The writer combines reality and the surreal to produce a different approach of looking at things. Magical realism is the combination of the real with the magical, which transforms common things into the unreal. It shows a new way to describe something. A good example of this is when she describes the mango’s juice, ‘impregnating the walls with a golden blood.’ Even though the main part of the story is about murder the writer is really trying to write about the community and how it works.

The author, Isabel Allende, focuses more on dealing with politics, history and social institutions. I think the murder is partly a way of showing how the community works and how Ines, being a woman, still has much power within her society. The story is written in the third person, which means the reader gets a clear view of all the characters emotions, which helps to visualize the situation. The Schoolteacher’s Guest the main character is a woman. She is said to be ‘mightier than that of the priest, the doctor, or the police.’ She is also described as ‘the most respected matron in all Agua Santa.’ In this society the fact you’re a woman has no effect on how they are treated or perceived. In this story it is not unusual for a women to have such a high reputation

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