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2 Short Stories by South American Writers

Liliana Heker's "The Stolen Party" and Mario Vargas Llosa's "On Sunday" are both short stories, written by South American writers, focusing on the pains of growing up and trying to find one's place in the world. Rosaura, in "The Stolen Party," has the vision to see beyond the limitations of being the maid's daughter. When she attends the wealthy Luciana's birthday party, she wears her best dress and enters the house knowing that she has as much right to be there as any of Luciana's other guests. In fact, she knows things the others do not. She knows about the monkey that will help the magician entertain the party. She knows the layout of the house and can therefore help serve the food.

She also knows who she is, and this helps her maintain her dignity when Luciana's cousin tries to make her feel inferior and unwelcome. Her self-confidence may be the reason that the magician picks her to help with his last trick, and she is thrilled to be singled out. The story ends with Luciana's mother making a thoughtless gesture that reminds Rosaura that she is really an outsider in the rich people's world, but Heker has created a vivid and strong character, and she implies that Rosaura will not accept being branded as inferior.

Miguel, the central figure in "On Sunday," does not begin the story with the same kind of self-confidence that Rosaura has. He is desperately in love with Flora, unsure of her feelings for him, and wildly jealous of his rival for her affections, a boy named Ruben. He recklessly challenges Ruben to a swimming match, knowing that, if he wins, he has a chance with Flora. At the very least, the match will prevent Ruben from seeing Flora that day, which Miguel knows he planned to do.

Because Miguel is so focused on his own needs and his own lack of faith in his abilities, he does not realize that Ruben is his equal both in pride and impulsiveness. The two plunge headlong into the cold, misty surf, furious t...

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