The Blue Bouquet by Octavio Paz
In The Blue Bouquet by Octavio Paz we have the theme of conflict, fear, innocence, connection, love and self-importance. Narrated in the first person by an unnamed man the reader realises after reading the story that Paz may be exploring the theme of conflict. The narrator is in conflict with the owner of the boarding house preferring instead to take his own advice than to listen to the boarding house owner who suggests the narrator would be better off staying put rather than going out for a walk. The description of the boarding house owner having just one eye may also be important as Paz may be introducing the boarding house owner’s character to act as foreshadowing. Leaving the reader to wonder was he a victim of the robber. The other conflict in the story is between the robber and the narrator. It is clear that the robber is a threat to the narrator and that the narrator ends up pleading with the robber to let him go. It is also noticeable that the narrator makes a connection with the environment around him. Being amazed at the stars in the sky and the element of darkness that exists.
The physical darkness in the story could be symbolical as what happens to the narrator is indeed a dark act. He is caught unaware by the robber and only through a twist of fate, having brown eyes, is he let go by the robber. The robber’s logic is also interesting if not macabre. It is possible that he is so in love with his girlfriend he is prepared to do anything to please her. Even if it means hurting other people and leaving them blind. As to why the girlfriend may want a blue-eyed bouquet is interesting. The story is set in Mexico and blue eyes may not necessarily have been common with brown being the most common. The girlfriend may want something unique from the robber/boyfriend in order for him to prove to her how deeply he loves her. She may also have a morbid fascination with blue eyes and consider them to be prettier or nicer than brown eyes. With a bouquet of blue eyes she will stand out from the crowd and the focus will be on her. Which may leave some readers to suggest that the girlfriend is more concerned with her own self-importance than on how her boyfriend obtains the blue eyes. If anything the girlfriend’s ego may be dictating the course of action her boyfriend takes.
It may also be important that Paz uses colour a lot during the story. Whether he is describing the white walls on the street or the green stairway in the boarding house. Colour plays a predominant part in the story. Though it is noticeable that the only mention of blue is for eyes. Again leaving the reader to suggest that the colour blue as a colour is rare in the town. What is also interesting about the owner of the boarding house is the fact that he is described as being ‘taciturn’. No explanation is given for this but the little he does say is important. He may be a man of few words but each word he uses is important. All the characters in the story would also be described as flat or static. They do not change. True the narrator leaves town but this is more to do with the fear he feels should he stay in the town. A fear that is not extraordinary but very normal.
It is also reasonable to suggest that the narrator during his encounter with the robber is afraid. He may lose his sight based solely on the whim of the robber’s girlfriend. A woman he has never met and who he does not know. All he knows is that his sight and life may be at risk. Only through good fortune does the narrator survive the ordeal intact. He may be shaken and as such decides to leave town but he still has his sight. Which leaves the reader wondering how many people have been less fortunate and who have had their sight stolen by the robber. In reality how many eyes does the girlfriend need before she is content and should she be content what will be her next request of her boyfriend be. The reader suspecting that the girlfriend’s desires may never be satisfied and she will play on the fact that she knows her boyfriend will do anything for her. The one thing that is certain is that the narrator will not be visiting the town again and cannot leave quick enough. The very thing that has allowed him to see the beauty in the world (or town) has very nearly been taken away from him.