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Transcript of Balboa
by Sabina Murray
-whether a short story, novel, or movie-helps gain insight into historical events.
The genre brings history to life through characters, setting, and its depiction of events.
This short story explores the relationship between Balboa and the Indians and the Spaniards.
An allusion is an indirect reference to a famous person, place, event, or
1. What allusion is made in the first paragraph of the story? How does this
allusion shape readers’ understanding of Balboa’s character?
Analyze the Text &
After Leoncico surprises Balboa on the mountain, the action of the story is interrupted by a flashback.
What do readers learn about Balboa from this flashback? What theme does it suggest about the nature of power?
The vantage point from which a writer tells a story is called the point of view.
What point of view did Murray choose for this short story? What does this choice add to the narrative?
5. What is revealed by the flash forward at the end of the story? How does this knowledge help bring out a theme of the story?
At the beginning of the story, the narrator says that Balboa is “dragging the mantle of civilization up the pristine slopes, over the mud, over the leaves” (lines 12–13).
6. What does this image suggest about Balboa and the “civilization” that he is bringing with him?
Note the many references to and images of dogs throughout the story.
Provide text evidence
7. What ideas does the author convey through these references?
Key Learning Objective
The student will be able to determine themes and analyze structure.
Balboa could be described as self-aware. Even as he revels in the thought that “his name will live,” he is aware of the incongruity that he, a debt-ridden pig farmer, should now be standing “at the very edge of the world.” He also assesses his errors in judgment honestly.
2. What is the author’s purpose in developing this trait of
Situational Irony is the contrast between expectations and what actually happens.
4. What is ironic about Balboa’s first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean? Why does the author present the crowning moment of Balboa’s achievement this way?
Analyzing the Text
& Figurative Language
Additional Figurative Language Terms
Verbal Irony - irony in which a person says or writes one thing and means another, or uses words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of the literal meaning.
Dramatic Irony - irony in which the audience's or reader's knowledge of events or individuals surpasses that of the characters (the audience knows something the characters in the story do not).
An author’s point of view can differ greatly from the point of view, or perspective, used within a narrative. The narration in “Balboa” is third-person-limited-point-of-view, which allows readers to focus on the thoughts and actions of the protagonist, Vasco Núñez de Balboa.
But Sabina Murray, the author, brings her own assumptions and prejudices to the story, and that perspective shapes how she presents the content.
Which elements of Murray’s presentation reveal something about her point of view.
Is she sympathetic toward her protagonist, or does she regard him poorly? What textual evidence can they cite to support their