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Literature / The Time of the Hero

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The Time of the Hero (Spanish: La Ciudad y los Perros, translated literally as The City and the Dogs) is a 1963 novel. It was the first novel published by Mario Vargas Llosa. It deals with a group of students in a military school in Lima, Perú; their relationships, their backgrounds, their lives in a school ruled by strict military rules.

The novel is noteworthy for experimenting with multiple perspectives and is required literature in Latin American countries.

This book provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: It's revealed at one point that The Slave has an overprotective mother and an abusive father.
  • Author Tract: Military rule promotes things like manliness, sexuality and courage but cripples other things like personal development.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: The Boa, hence his nickname (it means snake in Spanish).
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Slave is killed by The Jaguar in a sort of Deadly Prank combined with Disproportionate Retribution. When Gamboa tries to find out about it, he gets reassigned to Juliaca by his superiors in order to mantain the school's reputation. The Jaguar eventually feels regret about what he did and tells Gamboa about it, but it's too late. Alberto (The Slave's Only Friend) decides to move on and carry on with his life while The Jaguar marries Teresa and slowly changes into a better person. Time passes, people change... and life, as it always does, goes on.
    • The movie as well. Alberto has a fight with Jaguar in order to avenge The Slave's death, leading to them being suspended. The Jaguar is moved by Alberto's tenacity and tries to tell Gamboa that he was the one who killed The Slave, but Gamboa can't do anything, as his superiors have transferred him to Juliaca to prevent him from sullying the school's reputation. The movie ends up with Alberto and The Jaguar looking at the sky with a Thousand-Yard Stare, as they can't do anything about The Slave's death.
  • Black Comedy: Throughout the book.
  • Bros Before Hoes: After The Slave's death, Alberto decides to break up with Teresa, as The Slave had feelings for her. Teresa (who was unaware of The Slave's existence) misinterprets the situation and believes he's leaving her for another girl.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Paulino.
  • Initiation Ceremony: Happens when the boys enter the academy; the humiliating variety.
  • Irony: The Slave snitched on a classmate so he could go out of the academy to see Teresa again. Not only this results in his death, Teresa only saw him as a friend.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Jaguar, as shown in his point-of-view chapters.
    • Also, The Slave's father was this. When his son dies, he reveals that he was stern towards The Slave because he only wanted to tough him up a bit. It's bad, because all The Slave ever sees is his cold, harsh, abusive attitude, leading to realistic consequences.
  • Karma Houdini: The Jaguar goes unpunished even after he reveals the truth to Lt. Gamboa, because the case was already close.
  • Love Triangle: All three main characters are in love with Teresa, The Jaguar's childhood friend. She never really acknowledges The Slave's existence and falls in love with Alberto instead. After The Slave's death, Alberto feels guilty about it and breaks up with her, never telling her why. In the epilogue, Teresa is Happily Married to The Jaguar.
  • Prison Rape: In a military academy.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Lt. Gamboa is reassigned to Juliaca (for those who don’t know, it’s only a few miles from the Titicaca Lake, shared with Bolivia).
  • The Stool Pigeon: The Slave, who only snitches because he wants to get out of the academy to see the girl he likes. After his death, Alberto decides to rat out the Circle.
  • Those Two Guys: Tico and Pluto.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The Slave. In his chapters, he claims that his father is abusive and Teresa loves him as much as he loves her. When Alberto gets to meet his father, he's more strict than outright abusive, while Teresa only saw The Slave as an acquitance.
  • Victorious Childhood Friends: The Jaguar and Teresa, in the end.