Close Reading of Luisa Valenzuela's All About Suicide

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Sacrificing One’s Self to a Murderous Crime
“He knew he was an intruder. He held tight his position until his first attack.” Who is he? How many he’s are introduced in this statement? “All about Suicide” by Luisa Valenzuela challenges its readers to abandon the idea that he refers to only one person in any one sentence. This then presents the opportunity for the reader to take a deeper close reading of the short story to determine the author’s intent. The title of the short story is “All about Suicide.” As a title’s duty is to be a precursor as to what lies ahead in the story, one would assume that the story will be one in which a suicide will occur. The author fulfills the title’s duty in the very first line of the story as it begins, “Ismael grabbed the gun and slowly rubbed it across his face. Then he pulled the trigger and there was a shot.” On the surface, the title of the story seems to correlate with the theme of the story that is carried throughout. However, looking more closely at the words that the author chooses, it becomes apparent the author may have chosen the title to confuse the readers. Instead of an apparent suicide, the author has told the story of a murder. The author, Valenzuela, uses the word he to allow the reader to interpret it as either the character Ismael or the minister. If the reader assumes that he is always referring to Ismael, then the story is one of suicide. If the reader allows he to be used interchangeably between Ismael and the minister, then the story is one of a perfectly planned murder. When the author states, “First he grabbed the revolver . . . put it to his temple, and pulled the trigger.” In one sentence, he being Ismael, grabbed the gun and put it to his, the minister’s, temple creating a murder and not a suicide. Once a reader has accepted that the minister is the one who is actually being killed, deeper evidence can be found to affirm this interpretation. The first indication that the minister is being...
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