Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"The Heart's Reason"

Eduardo Malloa. 188-208.

Summary: The story opens with the protagonist, Montuvio, a successful insurance agent, taking a bus to work. He is completely contented. After a few more mortgage payments, the house will belong to him and his wife Alicia.

He has a beautiful wife. They disagree about what they read. She’s an intellectual, who loves art and novels. He’s a businessman who loves to read books about economics. Otherwise, they are quite compatible. He has one weakness. He allows his imagination to run away with him.

He and his wife have an open house every Sunday. One Sunday he invites a young, handsome man to join the gathering. The young man and Alicia, Montuvio' get along well together. They seem to have similar interests. Montuvio watches them interact, still contented. At first, Montuvio thinks nothing of his wife’s relationship with the handsome young man. Then the seed of jealousy sprouts. He dwells on a suspicion that his wife and the young man are having an affair. He imagines his wife’s coming out of the handsome young man’s house.

From imagining the affair he resorts to spying on the house to see if Alicia comes out.

A young woman does come out of the house—but it is not Alicia. Montuvio is sure of that. Until he dwells on it and he begins to think that maybe it was Alicia.

The story comes to a conclusion with Montuvio torn to shreds by his suspicions that the woman he saw, though she does not look like Alicia, or is dressed like her, was Alicia. A completely contented gentleman in the beginning of the story is now tortured by doubts.

Comment: I thought of Shakespeare’s Othello, only there is no Iago to goad the protagonist. Montuvio does not need an Iago. All he needs is his own suspicious nature with a diseased consciousness to convince himself that his wife is unfaithful. RayS.

Spanish Stories and Tales. Ed. By Harriet de OnĂ­s. The Pocket Library, 1956.

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