Friday, August 5, 2016

Short Story - I Sell My Dreams - Gabriel Garcia Marquez


Summary - I SELL MY DREAMS
                   –Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The giant wave of destruction
The story opens with the author having breakfast one sunny morning on the terrace of the Havana Riviera Hotel. Suddenly, a huge wave rises up over the sea wall, leaps over the wide, two-way street and hits the twenty-storey building of the hotel. The wave is so strong, it throws up into the air the cars on the avenue, the tourists in the lobby and the furniture of the hotel and even shatters the window panes.

A dead woman with a serpent ring
In the chaos that follows, a car is found to be embedded in the hotel wall with a dead woman at the wheel. She is soon identified as the Portuguese ambassador's housekeeper. The only thing that could be recovered from the woman was her gold serpent shaped ring with emerald eyes.
The author is intrigued by this information as he is reminded of another woman he had met many years back who had worn a similar ring on her right forefinger. The author is unable to find out which finger the dead woman’s ring was on.

The woman who dreams
The story goes back to the author’s first meeting with this woman in Vienna at a tavern thirty-four years before. The woman had been born in Columbia and had come to Austria as a child to learn music. As she never disclosed her real name, everybody referred to her as Frau Frieda. The author wanted to know what she did for a living, to which she replied that she sold her dreams. The third among seven children, at a very young age she had convinced her family that her dreams and her interpretation of them were as potent as oracles. A dream that she had about her brother and which she interpreted established the young girl’s power to foretell events through her dreams.

Her dreams make her rich
During the intense Viennese winters, the girl secures a job at the house of a very religious family, getting a room, three meals a day and wages just enough to cover her minor expenses. Her only job is to interpret her dreams and predict the family’s daily fate based on which the family members, including children, planned their activities. The master of the house bequeaths part of his estate to her on the condition that she continue to interpret her dreams for the family.  
One evening she whispers to the author to leave Vienna right away and not come back for five years. Her conviction is so strong that the author leaves for Rome that very night and never returns.

Frau Frieda comes to Spain
Thirteen years later, the author is in Barcelona with his poet friend Pablo Neruda. This was Neruda’s first day on Spanish soil after the Civil war, a stopover en route to Valpaiso by sea. During lunch, Neruda whispers to the author that he feels somebody is continually watching him from behind. The author turns back and is pleasantly surprised to recognise the woman watching Neruda to be Frau Frieda. She had been Neruda’s co-passenger on the ship but they had not seen each other. The author introduces her to all at the table and encourages her to talk about her dreams hoping to astound the disbelieving poet.

Pablo Neruda has a dream
After lunch, the author takes a stroll with Frau Frieda and finds out that she had managed to inherit the full estate from the Viennese family. She tells him that he can go back to Vienna now. He laughingly replies that even if her dreams were false he would never go back.
The author then leaves her to accompany Neruda back to his house for his siesta. Neruda fusses over the temperature and light in his room and once satisfied with the changes, falls asleep right away. Ten minutes later he walks into the living room refreshed. He announces that he dreamt that the woman who dreams was dreaming about him. There is some light hearted banter on this and the matter soon forgotten.

Some dreams slip in
Later that evening Neruda boards his ship and the author takes his leave of him and goes in search of Frau Frieda. He finds her on the tourist deck. She too had taken a siesta. She tells him that she had dreamt that the poet was dreaming about her. Noticing the amazement on the author’s face she quickly justifies herself saying that some dreams do slip in that have nothing to do with real life. The author never thought about her after that till the Havana tragedy.

The dead woman is identified
A few months after the incident, the author finds himself at a banquet with the Portuguese ambassador and asks him about his dead housekeeper. The ambassador speaks of her with great admiration and enthusiasm without actually explaining her work. To the author’s direct question on this the ambassador replies, she dreamed.


Q1. Did the author believe in the prophetic ability of Frau Frieda?

ANSWER: The author apperently believed in her dreams. We know this by his response of Frau Frieda's request when she said that she had dreamt of him and that he should leave Vienna for five years. The author leaves Vienna the very next day and never goes back. But later in the story he reveals, "I had always thought her dreams were no more than a stratagem for surviving. And I told her so."This hints that may be he left Vienna for some other reasons and not due to the prophetic ability of Frau Frieda.

Q2. Why did he think that Frau Frieda’s dreams were a stratagem for surviving?

ANSWER: