By Isabel Allende in The Stories of Eva Luna
In the centre of "Two Words" is Belisa Crepusculario, a typical character of Magical Realism. Born to a poor family, her parents did not even have a name to give her. So she gave herself a flamboyant name, Belisa Crepusculario, meaning, twilight beauty.
Having to live for years in a drought, Belisa knew nothing but hunger and suffering. After burying her four brothers and sisters who died from hunger and poverty, Belisa knew it was her turn. She realized that it was time to escape the dearth that had dried out the region and exhausted human and natural resources. One day she took off and went on a journey to search for a place near the water. During her journey she met people who traveled with her in the "desert" but she did not have time to help anybody in need, because she was determined to survive and find a better place. It was during her voyage when she discovered the art of making and selling words.
Crossing from town to town, Belisa was amazed when she saw for the first time a newspaper. She asked, "What is this?" Her business-oriented mind came up with an excellent idea. She thought selling words is a much more honorable alternative rather than becoming a prostitute or a servant in a rich house. So, she paid a priest twenty pesos to teach her how to read and write, bought a dictionary, and threw it in the water as soon as she realized that it was nothing but "packaged words."
"Her prices were fair. For five centavos she delivered verses from memory, for seven she improved the quality of dreams, for nine she wrote love letters, for twelve she invented insults for irreconcilable enemies."(15)
Then, she became successful in her profession and never intended to exchange it for another. Several years later, she had her own tent where she would sell words, legal arguments and many things. One day, as the word about her gift spread around, she was kidnapped in the daylight and tortured by rebels. When she woke up she saw herself facing "The Colonel", a long time illiterate rebel, who was running for office. The Colonel needed help with his speeches in order to not only become eloquent but also win the elections.
Belisa stood in front of the Colonel quite fascinated by his authority, and gave him not only what he had asked for, but she offered him a discount; two "magic words" that the Colonel can use anytime during the election.No one knew what the magic words were, but they had a tremendous effect on the Colonel who was much softer and relaxed. The questionable magic words started spreading panic among his adjutants. The most zealous of them was El Mulato, who had a desire to devour Belisa sexually. El Mulato was concerned with the Colonel loosing his manhood to the "magic words". He went on a journey to find Belisa so the Colonel can give her back the words in exchange for his power and manhood. Unfortunately, the spell could not be broken "The men knew then their leader would never undo the witchcraft of those accursed words, because the whole world could see the voracious-puma eyes softened as the woman walked to him and took his hand in hers ."(16)
To fit in the category of magical realism, a literary work must have at least some characteristics, and comply with some of the so-called principles of magical realism. Even though, in the story, there is no presence of supernatural phenomena, the scenes take you to a nonexistent place where the reader along with the characters suffers the drought and walks through the deserted areas. Moreover, Belisa Crepusculario is a very strange individual. She is a cross between a gypsy and a sage woman. She has a gift of not only using words as a powerful tool to survive, but she is also able to psychologically analyze her prey. Belisa is not the victim in the story as she appears to be, but the colonel is. She approaches the colonel just like a "mountain cat" as Allende describes her, and senses his weakness; she then uses her gift to devour him psychologically. Belisa achieves her goal. The Colonel is completely hypnotized and under the spell of Belisa, and never recovers his powers again. Belisa resembles the gypsies who stalk people in the street for a so-called psychic reading, and place them under the spell until they get their money. However, Belisa is not looking for money. She uses her wisdom to domesticate this wild puma. This phenomenon does not appear to be a mystical thrill, but complies with the magical realism format.
Allende is a witness of political warfare in Latin America. She escaped persecution in Chile and fled to Venezuela. Even though she was involved with politics, in The Stories of Eva Luna, Allende has explored mostly social themes. In fact, The Stories of Eva Luna do not have an obvious political motive or message. As a matter of fact the politics emerge as a secondary theme, but when analyzed closely "Two Words" appears to be a wish for a true political leader; someone wise and placid, a charismatic leader who listens to people, someone who does not come to power with a coup d'état and leave assassinated.