Character in “After the Winter” Novel by Nettel Essay (Critical Writing)
The novel After the Winter by the Mexican writer Guadalupe Nettel tells the story of two people – Claudio and Cecilia, who are in different cities and described in different chapters. This book is about two separate stories of different people and how they can cope with problems. The stories of the two heroes will intersect, and they will have subtle feelings between them, but before that, they will have a lot to live through. This essay will examine the personality of Claudio’s character through the paradigm of his actions and how it characterizes him.
It is a mistake to think that it is enough to study the summary or read the review articles to paint the story of Cecilia and Claudio. To understand why they have taken some climaxing action, you need to know what was worth before and what each character had a background for. In the course of reading, the reader is convinced that the literary figures of Guadalupe Nettel are incompatible lovers.
Claudio, a Cuban book editor, lives in New York City in an apartment he could buy himself. After experiencing a few traumatic moments as a child, he became dependent on constant control (The Many Lives and Deaths). In addition, it is worth noting that Claudio is a disabled man who lost his leg in the Boston Marathon explosion (Hind 1678). Claudio confesses ascetic views of the world and is always full of determination to break down his home, his work, and all relations if they do not satisfy the hero’s views.
As an example, Claudio convinced his neighbors not to make any noise after 9 p.m. because he does not want any sound. Few people love it, but he obeys the must-have routine in everything he does. One day Claudio met a woman 15 years older than him. Together with Ruth, they have a relationship, even though it’s in the style of the protagonist, under control, and with scheduled phone calls.
Ultimately, the two characters intersect, satisfying the thoughts of the reader who expects such a continuation. But Nettel wouldn’t have been such an exciting writer if he had allowed the characters to live happily ever after together for the rest of their lives. Instead, the author reflects The Many Lives and Deaths. In the narration, there is not romantic love, but a subtle empathy, mixed with psychological conflicts in life’s views and attitudes.
Claudio and Cecilia will meet through Claudio’s former Cuban girlfriend in Paris, and it will become apparent to Claudio that Cecilia is the woman of her life, the one he has always fantasized about. On the day of the meeting, Claudio feels an unusual intimacy, a kind of absolute freedom of soul. The relationship will be very intense and satisfactory for both. Also, Claudio is obsessed with the bursting of the tomb of the Peruvian poet in Paris, so he makes pilgrimages to all Paris cemeteries, which undoubtedly only connects him more firmly with Cecilia.
If we talk about the characters’ script growth, their development, and disclosure from new sides, it is necessary to mention one scene, in which Claudio reveals the most sincere and complete. This is the scene of Cecilia’s arrival in New York City to meet Claudio. For the sake of further understanding, it is worth noting that they were both in a relationship, because they first met in Paris, and then he invited her to visit him. As mentioned above, Claudio cannot be satisfied with the love of one woman.
Being in a relationship with Ruth, a woman who indulged in his strange and infantile desires, the hero was not satisfied with her, and in his spare time, fantasized about another woman, perfect in everything (Hind 1691). Such a woman, according to the description, could be Cecilia. However, don’t think that once both characters met and had a relationship, Claudio had to break off with Ruth (Hind 1682). He continued to be with both of them, and the chapter on Insomnia clearly shows that. According to Claudio’s thoughts in this chapter, “the radar some women have for threats-imminent or not-from their fellow females aligns them with snakes and other venomous animals” (Nettel 15).
The author of the book described the hero’s confusion about how Ruth might have learned of Cecilia’s arrival in New York. However, not to think that Claudio was delighted with such close attention from the ex-girlfriend. He understood that he should have spoken to Ruth honestly and directly, and explained the boundaries between them, and then a date with Cecilia would have been more comfortable.
The scene is magnificent when Claudio presents Cecilia’s actions at home. After the evening date, they both went to bed, but because of the constant calls and threats, the man had to spend the night near the phone. In the morning, he was surprised to find out that Cecilia had made him coffee tomorrow. And according to the following lines, the reader can observe the incredible growth of the character and get rid of OCD: “It was quite likely that she had dropped crumbs all over the floor and left the sink full of dirty dishes, but none of that mattered” (Nettel 15). He no longer needed to observe and control it.
Among other things, it is interesting to analyze the form of communication between a man and two different women. With a former girlfriend, Ruth, Claudio demonstrates his coldness and disinterestedness. He shows maximum abstraction from Ruth’s feelings, not wanting to have anything in common with her, but he has to. There is no such strict certainty in their relationship. With this in mind, it is unclear why Claudio follows Ruth to the restaurant, communicates with her, and does not break off the tie once and for all.
In addition, during the restaurant scene, Ruth gets a small knife wound as a result of a minor conflict, and Claudio tries to calm her down. It would have been perfectly healthy and humane if it hadn’t been for the sex that the man had described as the best in his life. Another form of communication he shows in connection with his beloved Cecilia. Everything in the same chapter, Insomnia, shows the reader the romantic scene of the evening when both heroes spend time listening to music albums. The section barely describes the dialogues between the two characters, but instead of words, we are shown Claudio’s feelings. He has the pleasure of having a girl lying on his chest with loose hair.
All of this only emphasizes the fact that communication is not as crucial for bitter feelings as silence. Guadalupe Nettel wouldn’t be herself if she hadn’t kept pulling a line with the mental instability of a male character. Even the calls from the woman he loves the most, Claudio did not answer.
Insomnia is like a breath of fresh air filled with pure love notes, diluted with drama and a knife wound. Before the events, this chapter of Claudio had already ended a relationship with several girls, and each of them had a severe problem with alcohol, drugs, or depression (Hind 1691). Since Claudio met Cecilia, his intentions have been the same: to spend more time with her. In the course of the story, the main target deviates from the side and shifts to short-term side-effects.
So instead of spending the night in bed with his beloved, the hero had to go to the answering machine and listen to all the messages from Ruth. It’s not easy to understand why he’s doing this, and why not turn off the phone. The fact that Claudio was lying to an ex-girlfriend about being related to the man he had sheltered added questions. The reader gradually becomes convinced that the primary vector is finally changing by the end of the chapter, and Claudio switches to Ruth. Their sex is an explicit confirmation of this. In the end, all this leads to Cecilia leaving and, as the author writes, seems to be forever.
It is interesting to note that the next chapter, the reunion, is narrated on behalf of Cecilia, who fled back to Paris from the catastrophic relationship. After another episode, in the Robots, Claudio continues his futile attempts to reach the girl and inappropriately sends her dozens of messages. It turns out that the relationship with Sylvia has dramatically changed the man, and he is ready to sacrifice his interests for the sake of achieving good, although it is evident that the selfish.
The old Claudio would hardly have been able to do such a thing. He thought of himself, “I, who had always had my life and my emotions under control, had now turned into a poor specimen of a human-like those wretches the street teems with, sniveling on the escalators in the subway” (Nettel 16). However, there is no global change in personality, as is the case in children’s literature, and Claudio’s former infantile character can be traced back to the Robots. In response to an old friend’s comment that suffering for love is the norm in human relations, Claudio replies that he does not want to be human.
As was written in the essay earlier, after the Boston marathon, the man became disabled, and instead of a leg, he has a prosthesis. This undoubtedly influenced his life, and for this reason, he began to want to be a robot: “I want to be a machine! I want to be a robot! I want to be an infallible machine” (Nettel 16). What this, if not the desire to escape from the real hard reality in its manifestations, and to become an indestructible piece of iron that cannot feel anything (Hind 1692). It’s the same feeling as with Ruth when a man couldn’t refuse her because he felt sorry for her.
In conclusion, it should be noted that After the Winter by the Mexican writer Guadalupe Nettel, although it is not a fundamental level of literature, in an understandable and subtle language, it describes the dramaturgy in the relationship between two different people. Their relationship is not the central theme of the novel, but it is their culmination. Through their relationship, the reader can see Claudio’s personal growth and decline, understand his infantile character and his desire to escape from reality, combined with the desire to get things back on track.
Nettel, Guadalupe. “After the Winter”. Gray City. 2018. Web.
Hind, Emily. “Literary Fiction Under Coloniality and the Relief of Meditation in Guadalupe Nettel’s Desupés del invierno, Carla Faesler’s Formol and Laía Jufresa’s ‘La Pierna Era Nuestro Altar’.” Disability and the Global South, vol. 6, no.1, 2019, 1677-1694.
“The Many Lives and Deaths of the Body in Guadalupe Nettel’s “After the Winter” Los Angeles Review of Books. 2018. Web.
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The novel After the Winter by the Mexican writer Guadalupe Nettel tells the story of two people – Claudio and Cecilia, who are in different cities and described in different […]