The Feast of the Goat
is a book of Mario Vargas Llosa
that deals mainly with the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic
and his eventual assassination.
The book is framed into three parts. In the first part, a woman named Urania Cabral arrives in the Dominican Republic after 35 years of absence for a flash visit to his ailing father, though it’s more of an excuse for her to exorcise some of the demons of her past linked with the dictatorship. The second part deals with Trujillo himself, detailing all the actions on his last day and his own inner demons. The third part deals with Trujillo’s murderers, waiting for him to fall in their ambush, remembering why they want to kill him in the first place; and later their attempts to evade capture of the dictator’s followers.
Tropes present in the book:
- Affably Evil: Trujillo tries to put this façade, though it tends to crumble from time to time. Balaguer does it more convincingly.
- Ax-Crazy: Johnny Abbes, Ramfis Trujillo, Rafael Trujillo.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: Huáscar Tejeda tried to hang himself with a tie. It didn’t work, and it made his punishment worse.
- Bring My Brown Pants: Trujillo has troubles controlling his bladder. He’s not only frightened of having a public “accident”, but also goes against his own cleanliness.
- The Caligula: Trujillo
- The Chessmaster: Joaquín Balaguer. The man started as a puppet of Trujillo, with no power whatsoever. After his murder, he calmly keeps things moving while he makes strong allies to avoid a possible coup. After a while, he effectively becomes the president, gaining admiration from other world leaders and expelling Trujillo’s family from the island to keep them away. In Real Life, he actually became president two more times, the third when he was over 90 and completely blind; not to mention that he ended becoming a dictator very much like Trujillo before him.
- Chest of Medals: Trujillo.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: The SIM’s specialty.
- Defiant to the End: Tunti Cáceres takes his time to insult Ramfis before being executed.
- Egopolis: Starting with the fact that the capital was renamed Ciudad Trujillo, not to mentions the hundreds of streets and places named by his family.
- Electric Torture
- Evil Overlord: Trujillo.
- Eye Scream: There’s no need to elaborate what Ramfis and Abbes’ lackeys do with ‘Pupo’ Román’s eyes.
- Face Death with Dignity: The Turk.
- Fat Bastard: Johnny Abbes.
- Fate Worse Than Death: The conspirators consider torture this, since they know they’ll be killed afterwards anyway. They’re right.
- Foregone Conclusion: Trujillo is murdered. Even if you didn’t know it before, the book tells it quite early.
- The Generalissimo
- Get It Over With: When Ramfis decides to kill ‘Pupo’ Román, after endless tortures, he couldn’t be more relieved.
- Good Hair, Evil Hair: Trujillo has a little moustache◊, vaguely reminiscent of Hitler’s.
- Gorn: Let’s just say that Vargas Llosa is unnecessarily graphic with the tortures.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: The Turk’s strong religious beliefs prohibit him to even try suicide. Eventually he’s executed along with his friends, something he receives gladly.
- It's Personal: Most of the conspirators used to be fervent followers of Trujillo until he did something that affected them personally.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: Trujillo has a little problem with a girl some nights before his murder. At the end it’s revealed that the girl was Urania Cabral.
- Mercy Kill: Discussed, but eventually avoided, sadly for them (especially Pedro Livio).
- Millionaire Playboy: All of Trujillo’s family, except for Rafael himself.
- Nerd Glasses: Balaguer.
- Psycho for Hire: Abbes. Balanguer once found him laughing with a book about chinese torture.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Mario Vargas Llosa says he had researched thoroughly the characters and their inglorious deeds, and only invented the characters of Cabral and Chirinos to have a neutral voice in the story. This means everything including the most heinous tortures and murders happened just so.
- Revenge by Proxy / Sins of Our Fathers: When Trujillo’s family starts chasing the conspirators, suddenly all their families become fair game.
- Room 101: The different torture centers.
- Shaggy Dog Story: It must have felt that way for most of the conspirators. They killed the dictator, waiting to see a transition to democracy; instead of that, Trujillo’s followers went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against anyone even suspected of being anti-Trujillist. Most of them end up dead.
- Then there's Urania's story or rather her father's actions. He's suddenly in Trujillo's black list and is suddenly losing power and his assets frozen. Some friends, and part of the book, say that Trujillo is just testing his loyalty as he tended to do at times. Cabral then serves up young Urania for Trujillo to bed in hopes of staying in favor with him. Turns out Trujillo, in spite of him not being able to get it up, was about to give everything back to Cabral he's then assassinated. Leaving Cabral quite poor AND a daughter who hates him.
- Smug Snake: Ramfis Trujillo.
- Suicide by Cop: Antonio de la Maza, Juan Tomás Díaz and Amador García Guerrero.
- Torture Cellar
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Urania. She wonders the same thing.
- Yes-Man: Trujillo’s regime is plagued by them.