Essay Narrative Structure and Point of View in Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch

Essay Narrative Structure and Point of View in Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch

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Narrative Structure and Point of View in Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch


Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch is not simply non-linear fiction, as the novel provides an early precedent for many of the characteristics found in contemporary hypertext fiction. Readers familiar with electronic hypertext fiction will likely notice the similarities in narrative structure, point of view, and the postmodern tenet of form contributing to content.

Cortázar writes in the Table of Instructions that Hopscotch contains 2 books mainly, likely meaning the different reading sequences; however, the first two sections, “From the Other Side” and “From This Side,” can be considered the different books to which Cortázar alludes. Just as distinct plot threads exist in hypertext fictions, we can consider the two sections independent narratives: the most significant factor for this distinction is the settings, Paris and Buenos Aires, which respectively influence the sections’ plots more so than any characters. Essentially each section presents Horacio Oliveira’s interaction with and actions within each city; Oliveira shows no motivations or desires behind his actions and is therefore guided by the cities he lives in the midst of (e.g. Paris provides him streets to wander and find other intellectuals while Buenos Aires takes him from a circus to a mental institution). I will discuss each narrative in more detail slightly later, but first I must finish my point of each section’s distinction. As Cortázar orders “From the Other Side” before “From This Side,” the first becomes the reader’s schema for further reading; while I assert that we can read the second section as an independent narrative, we will refer, whether consciously or subconsciously, to the first as ...


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...oint of the amount of text to read, I remind readers of Oliveira’s choices to accompany Berthe Trepat (115) and to return to La Maga’s apartment (144): greater understanding does not result from passivity, but rather, conscious decisions that produce more experiences. Thus, readers who experience more of the text will receive a more expanded reading than those who passively seek the course of start to finish. While this may not seem terribly insightful, consider hopscotch as a game for both Oliveira and readers, in which sequence serves as the method of achieving harmony (348) and creating a narrative, respectfully. Though readers may experience the same kind of futility as Oliveira, they can at least employ the variability offered in favor of deterministic page-turning.

Work Cited

Cortázar, Julio. Hopscotch. Trans. Gregory Rabassa. New York: Random House, 1966.

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