The Body as a Weapon of Resistance in Postcolonial Short Stories: The Cases of Augusto Monterroso and Zulema de la Rúa Fernández

By Kyle S. McQuillan
2017, Vol. 9 No. 11 | pg. 1/1

The arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the “New World” at the end of the fifteenth century triggered an age of violence, oppression, and colonization that lasted until the United States took the stage as a modern colonial power in 1898. Overt colonization was transformed and reinvented as neocolonialism under the guise of “international policy” written with the intention of controlling the entirety of the Western Hemisphere. The economic, social, and political systems put in place by the Spanish, and later the Americans in the postcolonial period, are still tangible in Cuban and Guatemalan culture. Most notably, the impacts are apparent in United States imposed economic paternalism, which has so affected Latin American nation-states that many of their economies have become inextricable from modern U.S. policy. Indeed, the exploitation of labor, resources, and bodies in the region has molded a landscape of political oppression and economic dependence that appears to be both permanent and uncontestable in the neoliberal global order.

Guatemalan author Augusto Monterroso (1921-2003) and Cuban author Zulema de la Rúa Fernández (1979), nevertheless challenge the capitalist system and revealed its consequences in two short stories titled, “Mister Taylor” (1959) and “Bailando en la Claridad” (“Dancing in the Light”) (2013). Although the stories were published in different countries and span a half century, they share an objective—to expose the postcolonial economic system that exploits Latin American peoples hundreds of years after the arrival of the Spanish empire. “Bailando en la Claridad” and “Mister Taylor” are characterized by three key themes: the agency of their characters (or the lack thereof), the presence of commodity fetishism as a motif, and the inherent violence of the globalized, postcolonial capitalist system. “Bailando en la Claridad” and “Mister Taylor” are allegorical texts that not only criticize imperialist nations and neoliberal economic forces, but also the sources of power within Cuba and Guatemala that are complicit in the exploitation of the resources and bodies of their people. By disguising a biting social criticism through their use of allegory, the authors invite their readers to explore the connections between the overtly imperialist era and the contemporary neoimperialist and repressive economic and sociopolitical systems in place in Cuba and Guatemala.

By disguising a biting social criticism through their use of allegory, the authors invite their readers to explore the connections between the overtly imperialist era and the contemporary neoimperialist and repressive economic and sociopolitical systems in place in Cuba and Guatemala.

Augusto Monterroso was born in Honduras in 1921 and grew up in Guatemala. He moved to Mexico in 1944 where he began to receive recognition and acclaim for his writing. Later he returned to Guatemala to work as an advisor to the government, but was exiled to Chile the following year in 1954 when the administration of Jacobo Arbenz fell. Monterroso returned to Mexico, where he stayed until his death in 2003 and continued writing and receiving critical acclaim. Notably he was awarded the prestigious Mexican literary prize named for Xavier Villaurrutia, the prolific poet and playwright, for his works including Obras Completas, his first book which contains the short story “Mister Taylor.” Monterroso is one of the most widely known authors of his country and although “Mister Taylor” offers a fierce critique of the government as well as the exploitation of the country by foreign interests, it has become an established piece of the Guatemalan literary canon. Zulema de la Rúa Fernández was born in Havana in 1979. She began to win prizes for her poetry in 2003 when she won “El Premio Unión Latino de Cuento.” Her story “Bailando en la Claridad,” was published in Como Raíles de Punta: Joven Narrativa Cubana (2013) a collection of Cuban youth narratives compiled by Caridad Tamayo Fernández.

“Bailando en la Claridad” and “Mister Taylor” exemplify resistance to systematic oppression, maintained by both modern Cuban and Guatemalan regimes. The reign of the Caudillos or political “strongmen” that first implemented this type of oppression in Guatemala began with the election of José Rafael Carrera in 1844, who retained power until his death in 1865. In 1873, Rufino Barrios took control and imposed the system of “mandamiento,” a process meant to enslave the native population to exploit them as a labor force. It closely resembled the analogous system of repartimiento instituted by early Spanish forces in Cuba. The final two Caudillos, Manuel Estrada Cabrera, who maintained control from 1898 to 1920, and Jorge Ubico, who ruled from 1931 to 1944, allowed U.S. economic interests into the country, including the United Fruit Company in 1906 and the International Railway of Central America (Calvert 69). In 1944, Francisco Arana and Jacobo Arbenz led a coup d'etat that unseated Jorge Ubico, and two years later Juan José Arévalo won a free democratic election. Arévalo, as a socialist, admired the social advances made by President Franklin Deleno Roosevelt and worked to create infrastructure to support agrarian reform that reclaimed land from foreign companies. After the death of Arévalo in 1950, Jacobo Arbenz was selected as his successor. Though he was not a communist, he also intended to redistribute money and land to help the most marginalized and poorest members of the community (Calvert 78). As a result of the threat to U.S. economic interests, President Eisenhower sent Allen Dulles and other members of the CIA to Guatemala to depose Arbenz and instate Carlos Castillo Armas as president in 1954. Although the mission was clandestine, the U.S. Embassy openly supported the new regime and contributed $80 million to the installation of the new government. Castillo Armas overturned the agrarian reform and Guatemala quickly returned to an antiquated colonial system under a totalitarian regime (Calvert 80). Like so many Guatemalan writers and intellectuals during this period, Augusto Monterroso was exiled to Chile and was forced to critique this oppression from afar.

Cuban writers have also faced repression. In 1959 Fidel Castro and Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara led the overthrow of the U.S. backed military dictator Fulgencio Batista. The new government immediately declared its “Marxist-Leninist” political position and began to take control of the country's culture and economy (Pérez 262). Many academics and right-wing elites fled the country as the imminent threat of imprisonment and censorship under the new regime grew. Approximately half of the island’s teachers and professors emigrated but still Castro’s government intended to grow and better the state's education system (Pérez 284). While using grass roots efforts to exponentially increase the country’s literacy rate, the government simultaneously instituted a system of censorship that persisted into the twenty first century. Castro’s regime also found a new economic partner in the Soviet Union, which persisted until the fall of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact of 1991. Cuba remained as the final stronghold of communism but without allies was unable to continue its pattern of importing staple goods. The country plunged into an economic crisis known as The Special Period which was marked by a shortage of resources that lasted ten years. In combination with the censorship, the scarcity of paper made publishing books increasingly difficult. As Louis Pérez noted, “In 1991 the Cuban Book Institute announced a 50 percent reduction of new titles. Thereafter, a long backlog of new fiction and nonfiction titles brought domestic publication of new literary works to a virtual halt” (306). Even since the end of the Special Period the publication of new literature, especially works containing such biting critiques of the Cuban government, has been difficult. Writers like Zulema de la Rúa Fernández often encounter problems with accessibility and financing due to socio-cultural and economic postcolonial legacies.

Zulema de la Rúa Fernández’s story functions as a criticism of her own country as seen from the perspective of a young women confronted by a “yuma pegajosa” or a “clingy or sticky foreigner.” She uses this phrase which carries a connotation similar to that of a “gringo” in other Central and South American countries and employs this “yuma” as a dynamic representation of economic postcolonial exploitation. The yuma is characterized as a threatening, European embodiment of the patriarchy put in place during Cuba’s colonization. The narrator’s resistance to his sexual advances serves as an allegory for the resistance to neocolonial economic policy led by young Cubans in an increasingly globalized world. De la Rúa Fernández criticizes not only foreign powers seeking to exploit the Cuban people, but also Cuba itself by representing it as a woman forced to sell her essence for material goods that are inaccessible to her due to the economic and political climate.

These themes bear striking similarity to those presented in “Mister Taylor.” Augusto Monterroso presents a capitalist machine that threatens the livelihood of indigenous and native citizens, constructed by foreign investors but maintained by local leaders. He personifies this neocolonial threat as Mr. Percy Taylor himself, an American visitor to his anonymous Amazonian village. The author depicts him as a fairly flat character that, due to his social status as a foreigner specifically an American, is able to use postcolonial power structures to exploit the bodies and resources of the town. Monterroso writes, “In 1944 he appears for the first time in South America, in the region of the Amazon, living with the natives of a tribe whose name there is no need to remember” (348). Thus he begins his story with ambiguity that highlights the theory of national allegory that Frederic Jameson proposes. By transforming this setting into a no-mans’ land Monterroso effectively uses an allegory to represent the economic and political struggle felt by many Latin American countries, including his own. His introduction paints Mr. Taylor as the representation of the pathetic “Yankee.” “Due to his dark circles and famished aspect, he soon became known there as ‘the poor gringo’,” (348) without a house or money he receives little attention from the villagers, but quickly, simply due to neocolonial social structures, he is given a gift which he in turn uses to exploit them.

The themes of patriarchy, race, and power are intimately related aspects of colonial exploits that Monterroso and de la Rúa Fernández analyze through allegory. Postcolonial theory includes not only the fight to dismantle the structures that oppress marginalized people in conquered countries, but also incorporates the effects perpetuated by the economic and social control maintained by countries such as Spain and the United States. In the case of Cuba as mentioned by Paul Sutton, the cultures that arrived by way of the African slave trade combined with that of the Spanish conquistadors to form a society unlike other Central and South American countries (52). “The particular identity of the Caribbean,” Sutton writes, “Lies in its history of colonial exploitation via slavery and the sugar plantation, and the correspondent evolution of a multi-racial Creole society divided by ethnicity, color, and class” (52). The social divisions that remained after the colonial period arose primarily from questions of race, remnants of slavery. Class divisions along those same lines were also noted in Guatemala where indigenous peoples formed the majority of the lower class. The Spanish did not allow them to acquire land, or consequently capital, a systematic issue criticized by the authors of “Mister Taylor” and “Bailando en la Claridad.” María Lugones explores the topics of race, patriarchy, capital, and power in her discussion on the “coloniality of gender.” She presents the postcolonial power structure that maintains gender and racially based social, political, and economic hierarchies as linked to systematic violence carried out against those who reject said hierarchies, including the narrator in “Bailando en la Claridad” and the townspeople in “Mister Taylor.”

Both authors use allegory, and specifically in the case of Monterroso humor, to transform their stories into representations of life in their respective countries. This phenomenon, according to the theoretical definition proposed by Fredric Jameson, can be classified as “national allegory,” although his parameters for inclusion in this category of literature have been the subject of debate due to their xenophobic connotations. The idea that every text produced by an author from an “under-developed” country, according to Jameson, has to serve as an allegory for the nation's socio-economic status has been criticized by various academics including Avram Alpert. Jameson includes the majority of Asia, Africa, and Latin America in his definition of the “third world.” Although the classification of what falls into the category of “third-world” has been vigorously contested, this definition gives me an explanation of how allegory is used by Monterroso and de la Rúa Fernández. “Indeed our want of sympathy for these often unmodern third-world texts is itself frequently but a disguise for some deeper fear of the affluent about the way people actually live in other parts of the world” (Jameson 66). It is to say that the tension that many North American or European readers feel as they read “Mister Taylor” or “Bailando en la Claridad” arises from the discomfort of being confronted with the colonial legacies that the characters experience.

One of the most visible legacies in postcolonial countries is the exploitation of the bodies of their citizens, including the narrator in “Bailando en la Claridad” and the indigenous townspeople in “Mister Taylor.” Biljana Kasic comments on the idea of body-scapes and the system of selling them as goods.

Female space is a bodily one, as we know the entire binary dichotomy was created and relies on it; and second, connected with the very concept of spatialization, the problem relies on the textuality of woman as a space or disposable terrain for the masters and whose physical and social extent thus gets put under dominant rule “re-written and re-constituted through conjunctions of social positions and psychic subjectivity.” (Kasic)

Although Kasic does not include men in her definitions of conquered body-scapes, María Lugones includes marginalized groups including people of color and the types of colonial oppression they experience in her analysis race, gender and power. As she sees gender and race hierarchies of power as intrinsically linked, I assert that that Kasic's theory can also be applied to the indigenous victims in “Mister Taylor.” The act of selling the bodies of these marginalized citizens falls into the category of commodity fetishism or “the global commodification of cultural difference” according to Graham Huggan (vii). Huggan intends to situate the idea of commodity fetishism in the field of postcolonial theory and relate it to literature produced in postcolonial countries. Both stories work with this theoretical intersectionality; they employ different yet related examples of postcolonial legacies to criticize their respective cultures. The themes of gender, body-scapes, and power dominate “Bailando en la Claridad” and their intersections are also evident in “Mister Taylor.” Notably, both authors portray these complex and dynamic intersections through questions of agency of their characters.

Monterroso and de la Rúa Fernández portray their characters primarily through the lens of socioeconomic status, they show agency as a direct function of capital. The only characters that possess agency at the start of the narratives are those who also have money, Mr. Rolston and the yuma specifically. The poverty of the marginalized characters is the reader's first confrontation with a postcolonial legacy. These stories function as allegories that represent the connection between agency and capital in every country in the region subjected to the same treatment under Spanish colonial rule and neocolonial U.S. foreign policy. As Mr. Taylor lacks capital, he is unable to pay when a poor native attempts to sell him a shrunken head; however it is the indigenous man who feels ashamed that he has not learned enough English to communicate with Mr. Taylor. Mr. Taylor’s place in the postcolonial hierarchy due to his whiteness gives him agency, although he lacks capital at the outset, and allows him to benefit from postcolonial power dynamics. Mr. Taylor decides to send the head to his uncle, Mr. Rolston, a man with, “A strong interest in the cultural manifestations of the Latin American peoples,” (349) and is surprised by his uncle’s response; Mr. Rolston requests that he send five more. Suddenly Mr. Taylor and his uncle begin a business that leads to increasing wealth, and consequently, agency. To convince local leaders of the business’s legitimacy he brands it as an ideal opportunity to grow the economy of the town, “It took little effort for him to convince the Executive warrior and the Legislative witch doctors that such a patriotic act in a short time would enrich the community” (349). The parallels between this business venture and that of the United Fruit Company in Guatemala are obvious and Monterroso utilizes the anonymity of a town “whose name there is no need to remember” (348), to slightly disguise his commentary. In this business Mr. Taylor uses his agency to construct a system of capitalist consumption that not even he is able to stop.

As demand from New York increases, Mr. Taylor and the government are charged with speeding up production. “In order to compensate for this administrative deficiency, it was indispensable to take heroic measures and a harsh death penalty was established” (350). In this moment Monterroso completely changes the tone of the narrative, the focus shifts from those that benefit from postcolonial power structures to those that do not. This is not done with a change of perspective from the heterodiegetic narrative voice, one that does not directly participate in the plot, but instead with the first mention of how this business has impacted the community. “That person was fined a small amount, executed on the spot by the army, who sent the head to the company, and, fair to say, the trunk and limbs to the bereaved” (350). Monterroso presents the reader with the image of victims who completely lack agency or authority over their own lives, whose bodies are being sold for the profit of the government. The author represents much of the struggle to retain control of a postcolonial society from the perspective of the neocolonialists, only shifting the focus to the victims momentarily as the plot advances. Zulema de la Rúa Fernández however, shows this battle exclusively from the side of the victim fighting to maintain her own agency.

The narrative voice in “Bailando en la Claridad” is homodiegetic, as the speaker actively participates in her own narrative, and fixed; the reader experiences the plot exclusively through an interior monologue. From the first moments of the story, the narrator self-identifies as a member of a marginalized community and identifies the “yuma” as a fixture in the neocolonial economic system. Similarly to “Mr. Taylor,” at the beginning of the story those who have money have agency, including the yuma who, “Shows up at your house, drools over your mom, gives you candy, cosmetics1” (117). He spends money simply to show he can exercise control over women less intelligent than the narrator. The author also characterizes the yuma through phonetic spellings that highlight his distinctly Castilian Spanish accent, “Come on baby let’s danth2” (118). He is reminiscent of a conquistador who arrives with material things to purchase the women he encounters. This characterization functions as a key allegory for the foreign economic interests that want to purchase the culture of Cuba. The yuma serves as a foil to the narrator and as a critique of the system that exploits the women who lack sufficient resources and agency to free themselves from economic manipulation.

The narrator characterizes her world and her socioeconomic status primarily through the descriptions of her neighborhood and the parties where she meets the yumas. “It gets boring in this neighborhood …So why not go to a party nearby, hang out with a yuma who thinks he’s a bigger deal than he is” (118). She describes her interactions with these men who, “take you to eat risotto,” (117) as a requirement to gain access to the material goods that one lacks in Cuba at this time after the fall of the Soviet Union and during the embargo imposed by the United States. The town and these “parties” are tangible outcomes of colonial rule and serve primarily to situate the conquest of female sexuality in exchange as distinct camp of the postcolonial economic order. The clingy yuma is an integral part of the geography of these gatherings, and his persistence in the conquest of the narrator as a show of his power over her agency serves as a representation of imperialist control. She is ultimately submissive, “He persuades me, after all I came to this little party to hang out,” (118) but understands that she is manipulating the yuma to convince him to buy her the material things she wants. Both the narrator and the yuma understand that the other is trying to win the game they have created. However it is the narrator who takes control of the situation even though she lacks capital and social status. “I walk to the middle of the room; I stop under the bare light bulb to avoid risking any sense of intimacy, any threatening touches” (118). The light is a physical manifestation of her agency. It represents security and power; in the light she can choose to resist the power dynamics that have been imposed on her and reclaim ownership of her own body.

Among the postcolonial systems critiqued in “Mr. Taylor” and “Bailando en la Claridad” is the economic exploitation of bodies which in these cases can be classified as commodity fetishism. The stories refer to the consumption of “exotic” bodies, those of “the other,” a process that Monterroso blames on imperialist and neocolonialist countries that maintain this system of consumption. However de la Rúa Fernández criticizes not only Spain and the U.S. for perpetuating these colonial legacies, but Cuba as well. The characters in these narratives including the local politicians in “Mister Taylor,” and the narrator to some extent in “Bailando en la Claridad,” allow their culture and bodies to be sold in exchange for luxuries enjoyed by the elites of imperialist countries like “a cold soft drink” or “an apartment in Miramar” (Monterroso 249, de la Rúa Fernández 117). They commodify their culture’s uniqueness to be sold on a global scale.

Both authors transform their characters into merchandise to be sold and monetize their culture, “In Mr. Taylor's country, of course, the demand continued to rise. Daily new substitutes were appearing, but deep down inside nobody believed in them and everyone demanded the little heads from Latin America” (351). The business continued to expand in the name of “progress,” to emulate the development of the places that purchase the heads. The elites of the town consume American goods at a rate that mirrors the consumption of lower class’ heads by the elites in New York. Both cultures are seeking “The Exotic” at the expense of marginalized populations, paralleling Huggan’s definition of commodity fetishism, but ultimately the capitalist system consumes them all.

The cyclical payment of bodies in exchange for “exotic” goods is a critical theme in “Bailando en la Claridad.” Although it seems like the women sell their bodies at these neighborhood “parties” voluntarily, the exploitation of their poverty arises from the socialist economic system that has created a country the narrator describes as “blocked” (117).

Nothing worse than this boring party, I think, while the clingy yuma asks me to dance over and over. I’m sure he’s planning the premature ejaculation he’ll impose upon me in the early hours of the morning. Because that seems to be the specialty of a yuma addicted to those dark neighborhoods, to the girls who come to these filthy Saturday night parties like rotten moths, without another choice (118).

The narrator clearly acknowledges the cycle of the barrio that traps the women. The commodification of their bodies as a cultural marker, the way these foreign visitors or yumas fetishize their exoticism, is directly related to the postcolonial power structures that keep these women oppressed. The narrator is keenly aware of her own exploitation at the hands of the yuma and is able to connect this effect to its root cause—poverty. Biljana Kasic comments on this system, “The global sex trade, especially through human trafficking as the most dramatic signifier, is a primary example that creates and comprises large fuzzy areas ‘in between’ transactions by using, if can use the trendy word from the capitalist world, the ‘economy of female sexuality’.” The global market that sells women’s sexuality hides the exploitation of these women behind a veil of “voyeurism.” This sex trade, which affirms neocolonial power structures, encourages and in fact cannot exist without, commodity fetishism. De la Rúa Fernández attempts to shine a light on this problem and highlight its intersections with class and gender through violence inflicted by the yuma.

The characters of Mr. Taylor and the yuma key characterization is derived from the cyclical violence they inspire. Without a doubt, the yuma is the tool of violence that inspires the narrator's resistance. The threat of sexual violence is ever present in her community and she spends her life maintaining a certain distance between herself and the yumas who wish to exploit her. Images of violence as a tool of oppression permeate every facet of both stories and both authors present the bodies of the oppressed as the only viable weapons of resistance. Monterroso describes this nexus between violence and economic opression, “With the impetus that reached other subsidiary companies (the coffin industry, in particular, flourished with the technical assistance of the Company), the country entered, asthey say, a period of great economic growth” (350). The author highlights the intimate connection between economic success and the systematic killings of the townspeople while codifying the phenomenon as an inherent function of capitalism itself. Even though Mr. Taylor does not physically murder the town's citizens, his business is the sole cause of their deaths. The narrator in “Bailando en la Claridad” is also familiar with the implicit connection between violence and capitalism, as well as its function as a social code, “[The others] can see us perfectly, dancing beneath the bare bulb, and they know there isn't much that can be done when a yuma puts his hand on your ass. It's like a mark of property” (120).

Every time a marginalized character in one of these texts acts, they do so to avoid the danger of the postcolonial systems that seek to exploit them. Monterroso ends his story with two culminating acts of violence; the arrival of the final shrunken head to Mr. Rolston, and his subsequent suicide.

One harsh and gray Friday, home from the Exchange, stunned still by the cries and by the lamentable show of panic given by his friends, Mr. Rolston decided to jump through the window (instead of using a gun, whose noise filled him with terror) when upon opening a mail package he found the shrunken head of Mr. Taylor, brought back to him from the distant, fierce Amazon, with a false child’s smile that seemed to say, “I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.” (Monterroso 351)

The literary value of the head of Mr. Taylor is twofold: it represents the danger of capitalist consumption, as well as the resistance to this consumption by a formerly marginalized agent. With this final act, Monterroso is offering an interpretation of how his country's relationship with, and exploitation by, foreign powers will end. This interpretation was especially relevant under the regime of Castillo Armas, which ended in a civil war that lasted more than thirty years (Calvert 105). Zulema de la Rúa Fernández's intentions with her final scene as not as clear. The narrator quickly begins to realize that this particular yuma is different than others. She is unable to manipulate him, and even though they are under the light bulb that represents her agency and security, he continues to push her. “‘Fuck babe,’ he interrupts, ‘You’re made for me’” (120). As she feels the threat of sexual violence growing, the narrator begins to invent ailments to “untangle him” from her, to no avail. In that moment, she pulls, “A clip from [her] ponytail,” (121) and stabs it into her abdomen while the yuma looks on horrified, “How disthgusting, how disthgusting” (121). The narrator simultaneously accepts the violence inherent in the capitalist system, and rejects it, choosing to commit suicide as a final attempt to maintain her agency. Both stories end in a suicide, an extreme act of violence and a final facet of the allegory presented by both de la Rúa Fernández and Monterroso. However in the case of Mr. Rolston the act is derived from cowardice while it can be viewed as an act of power and resistance in “Bailando en la Claridad.”

The final scenes of both narratives show previously marginalized characters using their bodies as resistance: the anonymous, indigenous character who ultimately sends Mr. Taylor’s head to his own uncle, and the narrator who ends her own life to avoid being the yuma’s conquest. These characters serve as the last stand against neocolonial exploitation that threatens their cultures. They present two distinct cases that successfully utilize their both their own bodies and violence as a tool of resistance to oppression perpetuated by postcolonial systems. Augusto Monterroso and Zulema de la Rúa Fernández successfully examine and critique the hierarchies and power structures created by Spain and the United States. However they have also held their own countries accountable for being complicit in the perpetuation of such dangerous legacies.


A Perez, Louis. Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution. Oxford University Press, 2015.

Calvert, Peter. Guatemala: A Nation in Turmoil. Westview Press, 1985.

De la Rúa Fernández, Zulema. “Bailando en la Claridad.” Como Railes de Punta: Joven Narrativa Cubana, edited by Caridad Tamayo Fernández, Ediciones Sed de Belleza, 2013, pp. 117-121.

Huggan, Graham. The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins. Routledge, 2001.

Jameson, Fredric. “Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism.” Social Text, no. 15, 1986, pp. 65–88. JSTOR, JSTOR, doi:10.2307/466493.

Kasic, Biljana.“Womanspace, Geobodies and Borderlands.” Sic Journal, vol.1, no.7, University of Zadar, 2016, DOI10.15291/sic/

Lugones, María. “Heterosexualism and the Colonial / Modern Gender System.” Hypatia, vol. 22, no. 1, 2007, pp. 186–209. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Monterroso, Augusto. “Mister Taylor.” Translated by Larry Nolen, The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 2012, pp. 348-351.

Sutton, Paul. “Politics in the Commonwealth Caribbean: The Post-Colonial Experience.” European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, no. 51, 1991, pp. 51–66. JSTOR, JSTOR,


1.) As there have not yet been English translations of “Bailando en la Claridad” published, I have made several critical overarching decisions as the translator. The author uses an intimate, casual tone when constructing the narrator’s inner monologue. She also uses vocabulary that compliments the harshness and desperation of the narrator’s situation including profanity and unique Cuban slang. Much of the narrator’s characterization comes through her tone and vocabulary so to maintain this element of the text I have chosen to translate quotes using contractions and generally un-academic vocabulary to reflect the narrator’s lack of formality in her speech. I have also chosen to use English slang and profanity with similar connotations to those used in the original Spanish.

2.) De la Rúa Fernández employs a phonetic spelling of certain words used to mimic the sound of an Iberian Spanish accent when constructing dialogue between the yuma and the narrator. To accomplish this key literary element, I have chosen to replace the original phonetic “z,” with a “th” sound, more recognizable to English speaking audiences as an Iberian accent.

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