Written by Audrée Vaillancourt

 

The implications of the final scene in "aura"

The short novel “Aura” written by Carlos Fuentes is a good representation of Magic Realism.  Felipe Montero, a young historian, accepts a new job.  He has to complete the memoirs of General Llorente for his widow Señora Consuelo.  He lives in her old, enclosed, strange and dark house.  He meets her niece Aura, who seems to live only for her aunt, and falls in love with the young lady.  However, he discovers that Aura is the projection of Consuelo’s youth and that he has become the re-embodiment of Llorente.  The ending of the story, which questions human nature, is surprising and confusing.  The final scene has both sexual and cyclical connotations.  It leads to reflection and demands imagination, which is typical of Magical Realism.

             Desire is present throughout the story, but reaches its peak in the last scene.   After looking at some pictures, Felipe realises that Consuelo looks exactly like Aura.  He remembers that she was doing the exact same things as her aunt.  Furthermore, he recognises himself as Llorente’s double.  However, he still goes downstairs to meet Laura.  He enters Consuelo’s dark bedroom, and discovers a woman, who he thinks is Aura, lying on the bed.  She does not want to be touched.  She wants Felipe to lie besides her.  However, sexual attraction is too strong for Felipe, so he starts kissing her and ripping her green taffeta.  The color green has an important significance in the story.  Green is often associated with nature, creation and women in general.   It is the color of immortality, which Aura embodies.  Felipe is touching her when suddenly, “… a ray of moonlight shines in and surprises (him)…  (He) stops kissing those fleshless lips, those toothless gums …”  (542).  He will continue when they will be hidden by darkness.  The body of the old lady is described as hideous, but Felipe will come back.  Consuelo says that she “will bring her back” (542).  Her youth and beauty will survive because of him and his love, because of his blindness.  His real purpose is to give birth to Aura, the illusion of immortality, a breeze a fantasy.  Aura is simply the projection of desires of the past.  She is the symbol of the female ideal in a patriarchal society.  She is young, seductive and passive.  She represents the fear of death and the need to hold on to the past.  The ending of the story is similar to the story of Adam and Eve: the woman bewitches the man.  However, Senora Consuelo is the opposite of Aura.  She stands for what men fear in women: control, unattractiveness, craziness and freedom of sexuality.  Felipe prefers to keep himself hidden from this truth, to ignore death, because desire is more powerful.

             Aura is a symbol of reincarnation, of the past becoming present.  Consuelo and Llorante reproduce themselves through Aura and Felipe.  Aura and Consuelo are one person.  A foreshadowing of this concept would be the description of the old Counselo at the beginning of the story.  Her face is so old “it’s almost childlike” (523).  Aura, her youth, is a personification of images of a patriarchal, conservative and materialist society which insists to keep living in the past.  There is an insistence to keep things the way they are.  The house, which is a feminine universe, is a representation of the preservation of the past.  Consuelo, who has the obsession to recreate this ideal, says at the end that Aura will come back.  She reveals the real purpose of Felipe, to perpetuate the cycle of life.  The house itself is the symbol of the uterus.  Felipe penetrates this dark and humid world: “you close the door behind you and peer into the dampness of the plants, the rooting roots, the thick drowsy aroma.” (522). The word “humps” (522) used to describe the place can also refers to a woman’s body.  Time is described as an illusion created to mask mortally and the need to reproduce, to give birth.  Before going to Consuelo’s bedroom, Felipe is thinking to himself: “You don’t look at your watch again, that useless object tediously measuring time in accordance with human vanity” (541).  When the fantasy of immortality and everlasting youth falls away, death and desire remain as existential truths.

             The final scene is an important part of Carlos Fuentes’s novella.  The action lies between deam and reality.  The reader is not sure if it the story is really over and what will happen afterwards.  Confusion is created in the reader’s mind, which is typical of Magic Realism.  In order to understand the sense of the work, an intellectual effort is required.  The final scene permits the reader to reflect on human nature.  The ending of the story implies that fear and desire control humans and that time is superficial.  However, there is a critique about Western society: it needs to hold on to the past and to keep the way gender roles are defined.  

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