Continuity of Parks by Julio Cortázar
In The Continuity of Parks by Julio Cortázar we have the theme of escape, responsibility, love, greed and betrayal. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator the reader realises from the beginning of the story that Cortázar may be exploring the theme of escape. The owner of the estate is keen to finish off the novel he is reading. It is as though he finds the material in the novel more interesting than his own life. Something that becomes clearer to the reader when the owner of the estate intends to share ownership of his estate with the estate manager. It is as though the estate owner no longer wishes to have to deal with the responsibility of running the estate. As though he wishes to change the direction of his life. It is also interesting that Cortázar blurs the lines between fact and fiction. Allowing for the reader to see how close both lines can be at times. It is shocking to the reader to discover that the victim in the story is the owner of the estate. Perhaps he is living his life through the lens of the novel without knowing it. If anything the owner of the estate may be living his life vicariously though at the same time not knowing it.
The theme of betrayal is also evident in the story. The woman who kisses the man (who kills the owner of the estate) is most likely the wife of the owner of the estate. She has been living her life in secret and the man she now loves knows that for him to prosper in love and life. He must kill the owner of the estate. There is no other course of action he can take should he wish to pursue a romantic relationship with the owner of the estate’s wife. This may be important as it suggests that the man is deeply involved with the owner of the estate’s wife and if anything he wants to legitimize their relationship. Knowing that the only stumbling block is the owner of the estate. It is also possible that the man’s real identity is the estate manager who doesn’t realise that he is to be given joint ownership of the estate.
It may also be case that Cortázar is attempting to warn the owner of the estate as to the relationship that is occurring between his wife and the estate manager. Mainly because the owner of the estate is near the end of the novel and cannot put it down. It is as though Cortázar is hoping that the owner of the estate will have an awakening before it is too late. However it does become too late for the owner of the estate and before he can have any type of moment of realisation. He is killed by the estate manager. Though as to whether the estate manager and the wife live in harmony is difficult to say as Cortázar ends the story before providing the reader with the required information. Which might be deliberate and act as a forewarning to the possibility that the estate manager’s greed knows no bounds or has no limits. He is after all not affectionate towards the estate owner’s wife when he enters the cabin. He may see the task at hand and murdering the estate manager is what it takes to get what he wants. The estate rather than the wife may be the estate manger’s goal. If this is the case than Cortázar is highlighting the degree a person will go to in order to satisfy their greed.
What is also interesting about the story is that the owner of the estate is limited in his vision. Both literally and symbolically. His eyes are fully focused on the book when he is at home and sitting in his chair and he is unable to see his killer approaching him. Also he may be putting the pieces of the jigsaw together through a work of fiction (novel) yet he is blind to the ending. Not having fully digested the novel. Cortázar also manages a smooth transition from fiction to fact which would again place an emphasis on the closeness of fiction and fact. If anything the reader is left knowing that the similarities between what is occurring in the novel is also occurring in real life. Which makes the story that little more special considering the story is set over one page and in reality might be considered to be flash fiction. Something which shouldn’t take away from how powerful the story is. In one page Cortázar manages to bring life to a story that is fiction.