In John Collier's "Witch's Money," the stranger who suddenly appears in a remote mountain village in Spain is initially seen by Foiral as an unwelcome madman. Certainly his surrealist description of the landscape must seem a symptom of insanity to one unfamiliar with the trends of modern art. Once he offers a nice sum of money to buy Foiral's house, however, the stranger is treated with a new attitude. He is still not completely accepted by the community that he has moved into, but he does wield a new type of power simply because only he can produce cash from paper billets. With his magic cheques, though, the stranger creates a tension that grows into an economic struggle between himself and his community. Even worse, the stranger unknowingly creates a conflict among the natives of the town who have been a united group. Ultimately, because of the power that the "witch's" money brings into this community, the people of the town -- once happy and content -- are destroyed, and so is the community as a whole. Despite his unconventional art, this stranger is a misbegotten missionary for the decadent values of Western civilization, and with his money he brings the disease of capitalism to the innocent village.
One of the first signs of a struggle between the stranger and the community arises when the villagers voice their suspicions about him. They seem to think that the stranger is fabricating details in order to hide a secret perhaps. For example, Arago points out that the stranger claims to have "[come] from Paris" but also "that he was an American" (67). The fact that the stranger has no relations adds to the town's suspicions. More importantly, though, Foiral and the town are skeptical about t...
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...e to him'" (75).
Thus, at the end of the story the townsfolk laugh at Guis as they march to the bank to demand their money. Guis, they believe, has nothing while they have a remarkable treasure in cheques. Little do they know that disaster awaits when they demand payment for their blank cheques. When their demand is refused, their little town will no longer be happy and content. Moreover, their attempt to cash the cheques will lead to the discovery of the artist's murder and the ruin of the village. The doors of prison will swing shut upon them as quickly as the doors of the bank do. But in reality the village has already been ruined, its innocence destroyed by the capitalistic power of witch's money.
Collier, John. "Witch's Money." 1939. Short Story Masterpieces. Ed. Robert Penn Warren and Albert Erskine. New York: Dell, 1958. 61-75.
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