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Literature / The Feast of the Goat

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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:

  • The Alcoholic: Chirinos
  • Affably Evil: Trujillo tries to put this façade, though it tends to crumble from time to time. Balaguer does it more convincingly.
  • Ax-Crazy: Ramfis Trujillo
  • Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: Trujillo has women and girls brought to him. He also sleeps with the wives and daughters of his collaborators as a show of power and to humilliate them.
  • 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. Ramfis.
  • The Casanova: Porfirio Rubirosa and Ramfis.
  • The Consigliere: Balaguer. Modesto Díaz, too.
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  • The Conspiracy: A heroic one: Antonio Imbert, the Turk, Antonio de la Maza, Amado García, Pupo Román, Pedro Livio, Huáscar Tejeda, Fifí Pastoriza, Modesto Díaz, Juan Tomas Díaz, Tunti Cáceres, Miguel Ángel Baez Díaz, and some others conspire to assassinate Trujullo
  • 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. Oh, and he was also aware of the assassination plot.
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  • Chest of Medals: Trujillo, of course.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The SIM’s specialty.
  • Defiant to the End: Tunti Cáceres takes his time to insult Ramfis before being executed.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Both Ramfis and Balaguer.
  • 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: Done frequently and nastily.
  • 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 being captured this, since they know they won't be killed right away and will be subject to horrific tortures. They're right.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Foregone Conclusion: Trujillo is murdered. Even if you didn't know it before, the book tells it quite early.
  • The Generalissimo: Trujillo is not only a prime example of a caudillo, but one of the nastiest ones and widely despised throughout Latin America for his countless crimes against humanity.
  • 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.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Balaguer and Cabral
  • 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.
  • I Have No Son!: General Pedro Estrella rejects the Turk after learning he was one of Trujillo's assassins.
  • In-Series Nickname: Several:
    • Trujillo: El Jefe (The Boss), el Chivo (The Goat), the Benefactor, Father of the New Fatherland
    • Agustín Cabral: "Cerebrito" Cabral (Egghead Cabral)
    • Henry Chirinos: El Constitucionalista Beodo (The Constitutional Sot), la Inmundicia Viviente (the Living Filth)
    • Balaguer: La Sombra (The Shadow), this one is mentioned only once
    • José René Román: Pupo Román
    • Arturo Espaillat: Navajita
  • 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).
  • Moral Event Horizon: In universe, Trujillo's regime undergoes different ones for each of the four main assassins:
    • For Antonio de la Maza: the murder of his brother Tavito - a loyal Trujillist - as part of a coverup.
    • For Antonio Imbert: the forced dissappereance of the Mirabal sisters
    • For the Turk: the regime's campaign against the bishops critical of Trujillo
    • For Amadito: Being forced to abandon his fiancée and later being forced to execute a man that turns out to be his ex-fiancée's brother
  • Millionaire Playboy: All of Trujillo's family, except for Rafael himself.
  • Nerd Glasses: Balaguer.
  • The Nicknamer: Trujillo.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Henry Chirinos is a thinly veiled reference to Enrique Chirinos Soto, a Peruvian Sleazy Politician that went through several parties and even abandoned Vargas Llosa's movement to join Fujimorism.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Chirinos
  • Propaganda Machine: La Voz Dominicana (radio) and El Caribe (newspaper)
  • Psycho for Hire: Abbes. Balaguer 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.
  • La Résistance: The June 14th Movement
  • 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.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: Miguel Ángel Baez Díaz is given a stew made from the flesh of his own son. He's even shown the head.
  • Semper Fi: Trujillo was trained by the marines. His trainer, Simon Gittleman becomes one of his supporters.
  • "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.
  • Sole Survivor: Antonio Imbert and Luis Amianá
  • Sleazy Politician: Most of Trujillo's followers, exemplified mostly by Balaguer and Henry Chirinos.
  • Smug Snake: Ramfis Trujillo.
  • The Starscream: Pupo Román, Juan Tomás Díaz
  • Suicide by Cop: Antonio de la Maza, Juan Tomás Díaz and Amador García Guerrero.
  • Torture Cellar: The final destination for many an unlucky victim of the regime.
  • Torture Technician: Johnny Abbés, Pechito and Pirulo
  • We Are Everywhere: The SIM's secret police or caliés
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Urania. She wonders the same thing.
  • Yes-Man: Trujillo’s regime is plagued by them.


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