Under the Jaguar Sun

Under the Jaguar Sun: Three Themes, One Cohesive Whole

Italo Calvino’s Under the Jaguar Sun is based almost entirely on a foundation of three essential themes, all of which relate in some way to the sensation of taste. While Calvino creates many antitheses, the dissonances actually turn into wonderful resolutions. This applies specifically to the narrator’s transformation from the beginning to the end and through the Mexican cuisine. He stresses the need of reciprocity in the tradition of human sacrifice and cannibalism (everyone was potentially sacrificer and victim) - and that the reciprocity is the prime (if not the only) reason that the practice endured. Lastly, he establishes the principles of the ouroboros, arguing that life must feed on other life in order to live. Calvino weaves these three themes into a harmonic core for his overarching theme of taste and digestion, establishing the ritual cannibalism not as repulsive, but rather as uniting and intimate.

Calvino uses numerous antitheses throughout Under the Jaguar Sun, and indeed they seem to make up the strongest basis for all his other themes. By the second sentence, the reader is already hit with an antithesis: the hotel (which is considered largely secular) was once the Convent of Santa Catalina (which is sacred). This...

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