Analysis of Balthazar's Marvellous Afternoon
- Narrative Technique
- Combination of Omniscient Intrusive Narrator and Dialogue.
- The Omniscient Narrator describes the world of the story, describes the character and tells us what is going on inside them--what they are thinking and feeling.
- The Narrator also makes direct comments about the characters. In truth, Jose Montiel was not as rich as he seemed, but he would have been capable of doing anything to become so.
- Large sections of the story are told in dialogue between the characters. cf. paragraphs: 2, 4, 6, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18.
- Balthazar makes "the most beautiful cage in the world" for Pepe Montiel. When he brings the cage to Pepe he discovers the father won't pay for it because Balthazar didn't consult with him. Balthazar gives the cage as a gift to Pepe, which outrages the father who has no control over the gift. The villagers see B.'s act as a victory of the poor man over the rich man. Baltazar has become a hero and gets drunk and ends up being robbed in the street at the end of his "marvelous afternoon."
- a village somewhere in Columbia? 5 basic locations: B's house and shop; Montiel's house; the pool hall; a bar or whore house; the street.
- The world is that of the simple village craftsman who has been making cages all his life as well as doing carpentry work. The worker, B, goes to the home of the rich man. Not comfortable in that world. The conflict is between the worlds of the worker and the rich.
- Balthazar is the central character. He's the artist who makes "the most beautiful cage in the world." He confronts the rich man Montiel and outwits him over the issue of the cage that Pepe had ordered without his father's consent. B. acts with pity for Pepe and his independence from Montiel's world of the power of money, by giving the cage as a gift. His act is spontaneous and not premediated. The other's see it as a victory over Montiel, and then so does B. He is a innocent, but not simple or naive. He is an artist who is humble about his creation, but finally can't be bought. The act of giving away "the most beautiful cage in the world" frees him from the power of the rich man. So he celebrates his marvelous afternoon.
- Dr. Octavio Giraldo. He's important because he has aesthetic taste and is eloquent in recognizing the beauty of the cage. He has the most lyrical lines.
- Jose Montiel. He's the rich man who is completely insensitive to beauty. He's the only one in the story who isn't awestruct by the beauty of the cage. Nice description of his world: in a house crammed with equipment, where no one had ever smelled a smell that couldn't be sold, he remained indifferent to the news of the cage. Montiel has the power of money and refuses to buy the cage. But B. outwits him by giving the cage to Pepe. Montiel is left with frustrated anger because he's lost his power over B.
- The most beautiful cage in the world is the only significant symbol. Symbolizes the work of art. The cage evokes astonishment and pleasure in all who see it, except for the rich man. As the Dr. says:This is a flight of imagination.
- Balthazar creates a stunning work of art--the most beautiful cage in the world and gives it as a gift to the rich man who can't buy it. His money has no power over the artist, who gives his art away. Use value trumps exchange value. A marvelous afternoon for the artist who can't be bought, who doesn't let money determine the fate of his work.