Simulacra by Julio Cortàzar: Summary | Major English Class 11

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Simulacra by Julio Cortàzar: Summary | Major English Class 11
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Simulacra by Julio Cortàzar: Summary | Major English Class 11


Simulacra by Julio Cortàzar


DETAILED SUMMARY

Simulacra by Julio Cortàzar 

This short story, "Simulacra" is a metafiction. It was written by Argentine writer Julio Cortàzar. This story is a part of the writer's imagination. The writer has imaginatively created a story about a family and the uncommon task of erecting a structure of gallows in the front yard of their house. The writer wants to draw his readers' attention to the truth that our society and its people never accept uncommon and unfamiliar things easily. This short story has presented the bitter truth that our society always rejects new ideas as well as uncommon things.

The main theme of this story is that people's perspectives on uncommon things or unfamiliar tasks are always negative and unacceptable.

This story has been narrated by an unnamed narrator. Here in this story, the narrator describes his extended family and members, their unique habits and uncommon tasks and the reactions of their neighbours.

According to the narrator, he lives on Humboldt Street along with his family members. His family members aren't liked by their neighbours because of their behaviour and typical tasks.

He adds that he and his family members are not common because they prefer to do anything freely, especially independent occupations or jobs, which are uncommon. He thinks that most people in his community do things either to be proud of them or out of a sense of obligation, but his family members are quite different from them.

He points out his family's weakness, saying that they do not have originality. They make an exact copy of others. According to him, whenever they do things, they express their reactions so quickly. They become happy, or they cry. They have many difficulties, but that does not mean that they are very unhappy. Many of them can create new ideas and put them into action.

He gives the example of his family's task of constructing an uncommon gallows in their front yard that has created curiosity, annoyance, and expectation among their neighbours.

The idea of erecting a structure of gallows was initially put forward by his cousin and the elder uncle. His uncle got such an idea after reading a novel called Cloak and Dagger. After that, all his family members performed their unique roles to achieve their goal. They inspected their front yard and confirmed it as an ideal site to construct a place for hanging criminals where there would be no disturbance by passersby due to its high railing.

The narrator's father wanted to make the gallows at the full moon. The narrator and other members went out to collect the materials in the warehouses. The narrator's sisters practiced the howl of the wolf. His youngest aunt took care of the gallows tree to attract wolves. His cousins had to bring nails and other materials. His elder uncle planned the way to torture, whereas his other uncle inspected the variety and quality of the various instruments of torture. There would be a place to hang or cut the head off the criminal, according to the case. But because of the cost, the place could not be built as planned earlier.

All of them started to build gallows on Sunday afternoon after having pasta. They worked until nightfall without caring for the neighbours' interests. They had completed the platform and two sets of stairs, one for the priest and the other for the condemned man.

On Monday, job holders in the family went to work, and others continued with the work. At the elder uncle's suggestion, some went to find out where to place the wheel on it. Others were turning the wheel.

Everyone was busy. The crowd of neighbours was outside, close to the railings. The narrator's younger uncle was fixing the hook to fasten the noose.

People outside had already known what the narrator's family had been doing. For them, it was quite an uncommon and unexpected task. They started protesting and threatening family members. They tried to pull out the poplar trunk while the family was pulling in. But the family won the tug of war, and the wheel was set on the trunk as planned by the narrator's great uncle. At the complaint of the neighbours, the police had arrived, but they were convinced that it had nothing to do with law-abiding citizens.

In the gaslight, the family started to eat supper. A hundred neighbours were looking at them. The pork and wine were very tasty. The ropes hanging from the gallows moved here and there. The neighbours began to go back home. Nearly twenty or thirty were waiting there for something to happen. The family had coffee and put out the gaslight to see the moonlight. Some howled, and others jumped on the platform. The moonlight on the noose shone like silver. All this made the family happy, but the neighbours were sad as they could not see what they had expected to see. They lit cigarettes and went home. The family could hear the night bus and the night police on duty. Finally, all the members went to bed and started dreaming of festivals and silk suits.


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