Amongst the well-known works of Borges, I’m glad we got the chance to read “The Cooked Cat” and “The Daisy Dolls”. These two were definitely my favorite, and probably rank within the top five of the whole Arts One reading list from this year. I liked them both for different reasons though, they were two different types of stories which left a very solid impression upon me.
“The Cooked Cat” is a story which shocks you. It doesn’t shock you with the actual cooking of the cat (considering it’s revealed in the title), but it shocks you because from the way this family is described, the idea of Aunt Pepa cooking a cat is completely possible. It was in the little things which the cruelty really got to me. The scene with the pharmacist, where he would flaunt his earnings, for absolutely no gain to himself. And maybe because it’s something to do with the people I’ve met in Italy (old ladies very similar to the likes of Aunt Pepa), or maybe it’s the way the story was written, but it was all incredibly realistic to me.
So while “The Cooked Cat” is a story which shocked me, “The Daisy Dolls” really made me reflect and think. While I may be completely wrong, but I felt like a large idea of the story was the idea of impressions. What I mean by this is more like “first impressions” or what you could call “judging something by the book of its cover”. Our protagonist, Horacio is a man who continuously does just that. He’s always trying to judge these scenes, interpret what they could be from just a single impression, only to often find out his first impression is wrong. Perhaps it ties in with the whole idea of dolls, and the way we would judge someone who has dolls and treats/loves them the same way Horacio does? I’m not sure about that point, but still, the rest isn’t so bad.
Perhaps what’s the most prevalent element within these stories is a heavy sense of darkness. And by darkness I mean sadness, desperation, and the idea of violence Jon mentioned. They seem really prevalent within south-american/spanish/italian writings, whereas novels and stories from other regions tend to have a bit of a lighter air. I don’t think this really says anything about the cultures, but rather is just a characteristic of their writing culture.
I definitely agree with you on “The Cooked Cat.” Although the action of killing any creature in such a manner is completely barbaric, it disgusted rather than shocked. I like that you mention that it’s all the little things that really showcase cruelty. If the woman just cooked a cat, she might have been seen as a little bit loopy, but this build up of senseless cruelty really shows the corrupt nature of this family. I guess, though, even though we might not cook a cat, win e’re all kind of like Aunt Pepa and the family in general. We all do little things just to exert our superiority over another, or act senselessly out of rage, and hold grudges to no avail. I guess we all have a bit of Aunt Pepa inside…