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Transcript of The Censors
by Luisa Valenzuela
Analysis by Matt Grobinski
The story begins by introducing to man by the name of Juancito. He had recently written a letter to a woman named Mariana, who we assume he had some kind of relationship with at some point. He fears the Censorship Division, a government operation that reviews any and all mail sent through the postal system, may read the letter and come after him and Mariana. He comes up with a plan to get a job at the agency and find the letter before anyone can read it. He successfully obtains a job and begins to move up in the agency. Slowly but surely, he becomes consumed in his work and starts to lose sight of the reason he got the job in the first place.
Irreproachable- innocent, harmless
"Juan knows there won't be a problem with the letter's contents, that it's irreproachable, harmless," (966).
The child appeared to be irreproachable, however he was nothing of the sort.
Sabotage- to damage or ruin
"Well, you've got to beat them to the punch, do what every one tries to do: sabotage the machinery, throw sand in its gears, that is to say get to the bottom of the problem to try to stop it," (966).
The politician attempted to sabotage his opposition's campaign through mudslinging and negative ads.
Staidness- soberness, serious
"The building had a festive air on the outside that contrasted with its inner staidness," (966)
The prisoners quickly became tired of the staidness of their cell.
Subversive- seeking to overthrow a government or other established system
"These were the horrible days when he was shocked by the subtle and conniving ways employed by people to pass on subversive messages;" (968)
The subversive nature of the radical political party worried the central government.
Theme-the central idea or insight of a work of literature
The theme of the story is that a man can become so wrapped up in his own work he can forget what truly matters to him. This is exemplified in the last line of the story, "one more victim of his devotion to his work," (968).
The significance of this theme to the story is that it gives insight even, to this day, of how people can become so consumed in an activity or job that they forget what they are really trying to accomplish in the first place. The author hopes people will realize we lose ourselves in the system and we must be careful to remember why we do things
Mood-the overall emotion created by a work of literature
The mood of "The Censors" is dark, sullen, and secretive. The author reveals little about the characters and the letter as one can see when the narrator says, "what had he scrawled, what had he put on that sheet of paper he sent to Mariana," (966).
The author uses this mood in order to keep the reader on edge throughout the story. She also hopes the reader will continue to wonder what had he written that could have cost him his life?
Point of View- the vantage point from which the writer tells the story
The author uses the omniscient point of view to tell this story. The narrator is able to comment on all of Juan's thoughts, actions, and feelings as he works to find the letter he had written to Mariana, and as he begins to become caught up in his work.
The significance of this point of view to the story is that allows the reader to gain insight into the thoughts and actions of Juan, but leaves some parts unknown in order to keep the reader wondering what could be causing him to do all of this.
Protagonist- the main character in a work of literature
Antagonist-the main opposing force or person to the main character in a work of literature
The protagonist in "The Censors" is Juan and the antagonist is the Censorship Division.
Juan was chosen as the main character because he easily related to by the reader. He is a man who appears to be in love with a woman and only wants to be in contact with her. Unfortunately, he gets tied up when trying to keep both her and himself safe from danger. Many people have experienced similar feelings in their lifetime. The Censorship Division serves as the antagonist because their purpose is to represent the oppressive nature of dictatorial governments, and make the reader understand what the main character is forced to put up with everyday.
"The Censors" by Luisa Valenzuela gives the reader insight into the life of those people who lived under dictatorial rule. It depicts a man struggling to connect with the woman he loves due to harsh restrictions placed on the national postal system. The ability to send a letter through the mail with little to no risk at all is something we all take for granted. In the story, Juan risks his life in order to send a simple letter (or not, we never learn what it says). He then goes to great lengths to retrieve, but ultimately loses his life because he loses sight of his original goal as he becomes consumed in his work. Juan is the perfect example of many people today, who tend to lose sight of what they really want in order to complete a task. The story also serves as an excellent example of irony. I feel that the publishers included this story for those reasons. I would recommend any of my peers to read this story because it captivates your interest from the beginning and ends with an unexpected twist. It also teaches a valuable lesson, to never become so consumed in your own work that you lose sight of what you started it all for in the first place.
Irony- A contrast or discrepancy between expectations and reality
In the story, Juan originally gets a job as a censor to intercept that he felt could endanger the lives of both him and Mariana. This same letter is the one that ultimately comes across his desk, which he censors like any other, and is executed the next morning for its contents. This is ironic because is killed for the same reason he got the job in the first place
The irony in "The Censors" serves to emphasis the theme of the story, which is how a man can become consumed by his work causing him to forget what truly matters.