from
Zorro
by
Isabel Allende

This page:

Zorro

Category:

Indigenous Americans (fiction)

index pages:
authors
titles
categories
topics
translators

Zorro

Copyright © 2005 by Isabel Allende

Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden

English-language copyright © HarperCollins Publishers
ZORRO™ trademark owned by Zorro Productions, Inc.

Heroism is a badly remunerated occupation, and often it leads to an early end, which is why it appeals to fanatics or persons with an unhealthy fascination with death. There are all too few heroes with a romantic heart and a fun-loving nature.

Topic:

Heroes

PART ONE

California, 1790 – 1810
He wanted to see her happy and never asked her if she was, for fear that she would tell him the truth.

Topic:

Marriage

She explained that the caves were natural temples, and that they were protected by a higher energy, and that was why they should enter them only with good in mind. [...] She added that if you help others, as the Great Spirit commands, a space in your body opens to receive blessings; that is the only way to prepare yourself for okahué.

“Before the whites came, we went to those caves to seek harmony and find okahué, but no one goes now,” White Owl told them.

“What is okahué?” Diego asked.

“The five basic virtues: honor, justice, respect, dignity, and courage.”

“I want all those, Grandmother.”

“You must pass many tests, without crying,” White Owl replied curtly.

Topic:

Virtue

In a corner of honor, where they could be admired, were the staff and trappings of the alcalde’s office, which the owner of the house used in performing official duties. Those ranged from major matters, such as laying out streets, to trivial ones like granting permission for serenades; after all, if that were left to the wishes of smitten suitors, no one in the town would have slept.

Topic:

Music

PART TWO

Barcelona, 1810 – 1812
Childhood is a miserable period filled with unfounded fears, such as being afraid of imaginary monsters, and of ridicule; from the literary point of view it has no suspense, since children tend to be a little dull. Furthermore, they have no power; adults decide for them, and they do it badly; they drive home into their little ones their own mistaken ideas about reality, and then their offspring spend the rest of their lives trying to break free of those beliefs.

Topic:

Childhood

“First lesson: calm. You must never fight in anger. The firmness and stability of the blade depend on equanimity of mind.”
He was solitary by nature, and in his situation as a foreigner he was even more alone, but he liked that. He was not oppressed by a crowd because in the midst of all the hullabaloo he always found a quiet place for his soul.

Topic:

Individuality

Escalante knew that the purpose of a duel is not to win, but to confront death with nobility and thereby gauge the quality of the soul. For the master, fencing—and with even greater reason a duel—was an infallible formula for revealing the true measure of a man. In the fever of combat, the essential personality emerges: there is little advantage in being expert with the blade if the swordsman is not imbued with sufficient courage and serenity to confront danger.

Topic:

Courage

PART THREE

Barcelona, 1812 – 1814
It is common knowledge that no man that women flock to boasts of his conquests. Those who do, lie.

Topic:

Men and Women

Every story must have a villain. In fact, his wickedness is essential, for there are no heroes without enemies of their own stature.

Topic:

Evil

He believed that her indifference was a stratagem intended to mask her true feelings. Someone had told him that women do such things. He was pitiful to see, poor man; it would have been better had Juliana loathed him. The heart is a capricious organ that can make a sudden turn, but warm, sisterly affection is nearly impossible to reverse.

Topic:

Love

He found that there is nothing honorable in a real combat, where rules count for nothing. The only standard is to win, whatever the cost. The blades did not ring in an elegant choreography, as they did in fencing classes, but were aimed directly at the enemy to run him through. Gentlemanly conduct was forgotten; blows were ferocious and gave no quarter.

Topic:

Victory

I do not use quills from ordinary birds; they stain the paper and rob elegance from the page. I have heard that some inventors dream of creating a mechanical device for writing, but I am sure that such a whimsical invention would never prosper. There are certain activities that cannot be mechanized, for they require fondness, and writing is one of them.

Topic:

Writing

At first I determined to write a chronicle or a biography, but I am unable to tell the legend of Zorro without straying into the widely scorned genre of the novel. [...] I have made generous use of adjectives, and I have added suspense to Zorro’s feats, though I have not exaggerated too greatly his praiseworthy virtues. This is called literary license and, as I understand it, it is more legitimate than all-out lies.

Topic:

Lies

PART FOUR

Spain, late 1814 – early 1815
In recent weeks the young man had seen democracy in action, something that until then had been only an abstract concept. In the United States, democracy was controlled by white men; on Barataria it worked for everyone—except women, of course. Lafitte’s peculiar ideas seemed worthy of consideration. He maintained that the powerful invented laws to preserve their privileges and to control the poor and discontented; therefore it would be stupid to obey them.

Topic:

Democracy

PART FIVE

Alta California, 1815
Times had changed so much that he no longer recognized the world; greed reigned; no one remembered the teachings of Christ, no one respected him, and he could not protect his neophytes from the abuse of the whites. Sometimes he wondered if the Indians had not been better off before, when they were the lords of California and followed their own ways, with their customs and their gods, but the priest immediately crossed himself and asked God’s forgiveness for such heresy.

Topic:

Heresy

PART SIX
BRIEF EPILOGUE AND FINAL PERIOD


Alta California, 1840
Memory is fragile and capricious; each of us remembers and forgets according to what is convenient. The past is a notebook with many leaves on which we jot down our lives with ink that changes according to our state of mind. In my case, the notebook resembles the fantasy maps of Captain Santiago de León and deserves to be included in the Encyclopedia of Desires, Complete Version. In Bernardo’s case, the book is as exciting as a brick.

text checked (see note) Feb 2007

top of page