Death and the Maiden

by

Ariel Dorfman

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Gerardo Escobar Character Analysis

Gerardo is Paulina’s husband, a man of around forty-five. He has just been appointed by the country’s new president to be the head of an “Investigate Commission” that will look into human rights atrocities committed under the previous military dictatorship. Astonished at his wife’s violent kidnapping of Roberto, Gerardo tries to argue for Roberto’s release by appealing to high ideals of justice. Paulina, however, feels that his approach—best described as placing trust in the judiciary and the country’s democratic institutions—will not lead to justice. Moreover, a suspicion runs throughout the play that Gerardo is more concerned with his career than with helping Paulina make peace with what has happened to her. He also displays a fairly casual misogyny, laughing about the idiocy of women when talking with Roberto and frequently patronizing Paulina; the audience also learns that, while Paulina was being tortured and raped, Gerardo was having an affair.

Gerardo Escobar Quotes in Death and the Maiden

The Death and the Maiden quotes below are all either spoken by Gerardo Escobar or refer to Gerardo Escobar. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory, Trauma, and the Senses Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Death and the Maiden published in 1991.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

GERARDO: If I were to accept, I must know I can count on you, that you don’t feel . . . if you were to have a relapse, it could leave me . . .

PAULINA: Vulnerable, yes, it could leave you vulnerable. Stripped. You’d have to take care of me all over again.

GERARDO: That’s unfair.

Brief pause.

Are you criticizing me because I take care of you?

PAULINA: And that’s what you told the president, that your wife might have problems with . . .

Pause.

GERARDO: He doesn’t know. Nobody knows. Not even your mother knows.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar (speaker)
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

PAULINA: Find out what happened. Find out everything. Promise me that you’ll find everything that . . .—

GERARDO: Everything. Everything we can. We’ll go as far as we . . . (Pause.) As we’re . . .

PAULINA: Allowed.

GERARDO: Limited, let’s say we’re limited. But there is so much we can do. . . . We’ll publish our conclusions. There will be an official report. What happened will be established objectively, so no one will ever be able to deny it, so that our country will never again live through the excesses that . . .

PAULINA: And then?

GERARDO is silent.

You hear the relatives of the victims, you denounce the crimes, what happens to the criminals?

GERARDO: That depends on the judges. The courts receive a copy of the evidence and the judges proceed from there to—

PAULINA: The judges? The same judges who never intervened to save one life in seventeen years of dictatorship? Who never accepted a single habeas corpus ever? Judge Peralta who told that poor woman who had come to ask for her missing husband that the man had probably grown tired of her and run off with some other woman? That judge? What did you call him? A judge? A judge?

As she speaks, PAULINA begins to laugh softly but with increasing hysteria.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar (speaker)
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

GERARDO: Oh, it’s you. God, you scared the shit out of me.

ROBERTO: I’m really so sorry for this—intrusion. I thought you’d still be up celebrating.

GERARDO: You must excuse my . . . — do come in.

ROBERTO enters the house.

It’s just that we still haven’t got used to it.

ROBERTO: Used to it?

GERARDO: To democracy. That someone knocks on your door at midnight and it’s a friend and not . . . —

Related Characters: Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda (speaker), Paulina Salas
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

ROBERTO: No, I am telling you, and this is said straight from the heart, this Commission is going to help us close an exceptionally painful chapter in our history, and here I am, alone this weekend, we’ve all got to help out—it may be a teensy-weensy gesture but—

GERARDO: Tomorrow would have been fine.

ROBERTO: Tomorrow? You manage to get to your car—no spare. Then you have to set out and find me. No, my friend,— and then I thought I might as well offer to go fix it with you tomorrow with my jack—which reminds me— what happened to your jack, did you find out what—

GERARDO: My wife loaned it to her mother.

ROBERTO: To her mother?

GERARDO: You know women. . . .

ROBERTO (laughing): All too well. The last mystery. We are going to explore all the frontiers, my friend, and we will still have that unpredictable female soul. You know what Nietzsche once wrote—at least I think it was Nietzsche? That we can never entirely possess that female soul. Or maybe it wasn’t him. Though you can be sure that old Nietzsche would have if he’d found himself on a weekend road without a jack.

Related Characters: Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda (speaker), Paulina Salas
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 1, Scene 4 Quotes

PAULINA: But here I am chatting away when I’m supposed to make breakfast, aren’t I, a nice breakfast? Now you like—let’s see, ham sandwiches, wasn’t it? Ham sandwiches with mayonnaise. We haven’t got mayonnaise, but we do have ham. Gerardo also likes ham. I’ll get to know your other tastes. Sorry about the mayonnaise. I hope you don’t mind that this must remain, for the moment, a monologue. You’ll have your say, Doctor, you can be sure of that. I just don’t want to remove this— gag, you call it, don’t you?—at least not till Gerardo wakes up.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar, Roberto Miranda
Related Symbols: The Gun
Page Number: 20-21
Explanation and Analysis:

PAULINA: D’you know how long it’s been since I last listened to this quartet? If it’s on the radio, I turn it off, I even try not to go out much, though Gerardo has all these social events he’s got to attend and if they ever name him minister we’re going to live running around shaking hands and smiling at perfect strangers, but I always pray they won’t put on Schubert. One night we were dining with— they were extremely important people, and our hostess happened to put Schubert on, a piano sonata, and I thought, do I switch it off or do I leave, but my body decided for me, I felt extremely ill right then and there and Gerardo had to take me home, so we left them there listening to Schubert and nobody knew what had made me ill, so I pray they won’t play that anywhere I go, any Schubert at all, strange isn’t it, when he used to be, and I would say, yes I really would say, he’s still my favorite composer, such a sad, noble sense of life. But I always promised myself a time would come to recover him, bring him back from the grave so to speak, and just sitting here listening to him with you I know that I was right, that I’m—so many things that are going to change from now on, right? To think I was on the verge of throwing my whole Schubert collection out, crazy!

(raising her voice, to Gerardo)

Isn’t this quartet marvellous, my love?

[…]

The real real truth is that you look slightly bored.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar, Roberto Miranda
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

PAULINA: It’s his voice. I recognized it as soon as he came in here last night. The way he laughs. Certain phrases he uses.

GERARDO: But that’s not . . .

PAULINA: It may be a teensy-weensy thing, but it’s enough for me. During all these years not an hour has passed that I haven’t heard it, that same voice, next to me, next to my ear, that voice mixed with saliva, you think I’d forget a voice like his?

(Imitating the voice of Roberto, then of a man)

“Give her a bit more. This bitch can take a bit more. Give it to her.”

“You sure, Doctor? What if the cunt dies on us?”

“She’s not even near fainting. Give it to her, up another notch.”

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

GERARDO: Paulina, I’m asking you to please give me that gun.

PAULINA: No.

GERARDO: While you point it at me, there is no possible dialogue.

PAULINA: On the contrary, as soon as I stop pointing it at you, all dialogue will automatically terminate. If I put it down you’ll use your strength to win the argument.

[…]

GERARDO: You can’t do this.

PAULINA: When are you going to stop telling me what I can and can’t do. “You can’t do this, you can do that, you can’t do this.” I did it.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gun
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

GERARDO: Please, Paulina, could we start being reasonable, start acting as if—

PAULINA: You be reasonable. They never did anything to you.

GERARDO: They did things, of course they did things—but we’re not competing for some horror prize here, damn it— let’s try and be reasonable. Even if this man was the doctor of those terrible events—he isn’t, there’s no reason why he should be, but let’s say he was—even in that case, what right do you have to bind him like this, baby, look at what you’re doing, Paulina, think of the consequences of—

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

PAULINA: You don’t know anything about Gerardo, do you?—I mean you never knew a thing. I never breathed his name. Your—your colleagues, they’d ask me, of course. “With that twat, little lady, don’t tell you haven’t got someone to fuck you, huh? Come on, just tell us who’s been fucking you, little lady.” But I never gave them Gerardo’s name. Strange how things turn out. If I had mentioned Gerardo, he wouldn’t have been named to any Investigating Commission, but would have been one of the names that some other lawyer was investigating. And I would be in front of that Commission to tell them how I met Gerardo—in fact I met him just after the military coup, helping people seek asylum in embassies—saving lives with Gerardo, smuggling people out of the country so they wouldn’t be killed. I was wild and fearless, willing to do anything, I can’t believe that I didn’t have an ounce of fear in my whole body at that time.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar, Roberto Miranda
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

ROBERTO: (coughs, then in a rough, hoarse voice): Water.

GERARDO: What?

PAULINA: He wants water, Gerardo.

Gerardo rushes to fill a glass with water and brings it to Roberto, giving it to him to drink. Roberto drinks it down noisily.

PAULINA: Nothing like good fresh water, eh, Doctor? Beats drinking your own piss.

ROBERTO: Escobar. This is inexcusable. I will never forgive you as long as I live.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda (speaker)
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

GERARDO: But then, what are you going to do to him? With him? You’re going to—what? What are you going to—and all this because fifteen years ago someone . . .

PAULINA: Someone what? . . . what did they do to me, Gerardo. Say it.

Brief pause.

You never wanted to say it. Say it now. They . . .

GERARDO: If you didn’t say it, how was I going to?

PAULINA: Say it now.

GERARDO: I only know what you told me that first night, when . . .

PAULINA: They . . .

GERARDO: They . . .

PAULINA: Tell me, tell me.

GERARDO: They— tortured you. Now you say it.

PAULINA: They tortured me. And what else? What else did they do to me, Gerardo?

Gerardo goes to her, takes her in his arms.

GERARDO (whispering to her): They raped you.

PAULINA: How many times?

GERARDO: More than once.

PAULINA: How many times?

GERARDO: You never said. I didn’t count, you said.

PAULINA: It’s not true.

GERARDO: What’s not true?

PAULINA: That I didn’t count. I always kept count. I know how many times.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar (speaker)
Page Number: 34-35
Explanation and Analysis:

PAULINA: Oh, my little man, you do fall for every trick in the book, don’t you? Gerardo, you have my promise, as solemn as it can be, that this private trial will not affect you or the Commission. Do you really think I’d do anything to trouble the Commission, stop you from finding out where the bodies of the missing prisoners are, how people were executed, where they’re buried. But the members of the Commission only deal with the dead, with those who can’t speak. And I can speak—it’s been years since I murmured even a word, I haven’t opened my mouth to even whisper a breath of what I’m thinking, years living in terror of my own . . . but I’m not dead, I thought I was but I’m not and I can speak, damn it—so for God’s sake let me have my say and you go ahead with your Commission and believe me when I tell you that none of this is going to be made public.

GERARDO: Even in that case—I have to resign no matter what, and the sooner, the better.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar (speaker)
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

PAULINA:I would imagine pushing their head into a bucket of their own shit, or electricity, or when we would be making love and I could feel the possibility of an orgasm building, the very idea of currents going through my body would remind me and then—and then I had to fake it, fake it so you wouldn’t know what I was thinking, so you wouldn’t feel that it was your failure—oh Gerardo.

GERARDO: Oh, my love, my love.

PAULINA: So when I heard his voice, I thought the only thing 1want is to have him raped, have someone fuck him, that’s what I thought, that he should know just once what it is to . . . And as I can’t rape—I thought that it was a sentence that you would have to carry out.

GERARDO: Don’t go on, Paulina.

Related Characters: Paulina Salas (speaker), Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

GERARDO: Roberto, I want to be honest with you. There is only one way to save your life . . .

Brief pause.

I think we have to—indulge her.

ROBERTO: Indulge her?

GERARDO: Humor her, placate her, so she feels that we—that you, are willing to cooperate . . .

Related Characters: Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda (speaker), Paulina Salas
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

ROBERTO: Playing roles, she’s bad, you’re good, to see if you can get me to confess that way. And once I’ve confessed, you’re the one, not her, you’re the one who’s going to kill me, it’s what any man would do, any real man, if they’d raped his wife, it’s what I would do if somebody had raped my wife. Cut your balls off. So tell me: you think I’m that fucking doctor, don’t you?

Pause. Gerardo stands up.

Where are you going?

GERARDO: I’m going to get the gun and blow your fucking brains out. (Brief pause. Angrier and angrier) But first you sonuvabitch I’m going to follow your advice and cut off your balls, you fascist. That’s what a real man does, doesn’t he. Real macho men blow people’s brains out and fuck women when they’re tied up on cots. Not like me. I’m a stupid, yellow, soft faggot because I defend the son of a bitch who screwed my wife and destroyed her life. How many times did you screw her? How many times, you bastard?

Related Characters: Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Roberto Miranda (speaker), Paulina Salas
Related Symbols: The Gun
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

GERARDO: People can die from an excessive dose of the truth, you know.

Related Characters: Gerardo Escobar (speaker), Paulina Salas
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

Gerardo and Paulina sit in their seats. Roberto goes to another seat, always looking at Paulina. Applause is heard when the imaginary musicians come on. The instruments are tested and tuned. Then Death and the Maiden begins. Gerardo looks at Paulina, who looks forward. He takes her hand and then also begins to look forward. After a few instants, she turns slowly and looks at Roberto. Their eyes interlock for a moment. Then she turns her head and faces tire stage and the mirror. The lights go down while the music plays and plays and plays.

Related Symbols: The Mirror
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Death and the Maiden LitChart as a printable PDF.
Death and the Maiden PDF

Gerardo Escobar Character Timeline in Death and the Maiden

The timeline below shows where the character Gerardo Escobar appears in Death and the Maiden. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Female Empowerment Theme Icon
...on the terrace of her secluded coastal home, which she shares with her husband, lawyer Gerardo Escobar. On the dining table, dinner is laid out for two and going cold. A... (full context)
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...She takes a gun out of a drawer, hides behind the curtain, and listens, hearing Gerardo expressing thanks to an unknown individual. She hides the gun as he comes in, surprised... (full context)
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Gerardo explains to Paulina he was talking to the “great guy” who stopped to help him... (full context)
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Gerardo informs Paulina that he has invited “Doctor Miranda”—the good Samaritan who helped him on the... (full context)
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Gerardo says he’s worried about what would happen if Paulina were to have a “relapse” while... (full context)
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...the commission will only investigate the “most serious cases”—meaning the ones that ended in death. Gerardo says yes, adding that he doesn’t like to talk about “it.” But, he continues, if... (full context)
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Gerardo tries to reassure Paulina about the commission, saying it will do as much as it... (full context)
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Paulina asks if Gerardo has already said yes to the president. He says he didn’t want to hurt her,... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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An hour later, a car approaches Paulina and Gerardo’s beach house once more. Hearing a knock at the door, Gerardo goes to answer in... (full context)
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Gerardo opens the door to find Roberto Miranda standing there. Roberto apologizes profusely for waking them... (full context)
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Roberto explains that he had been driving back to his beach house after helping Gerardo, listening to the news. Upon hearing the name of the lawyer chosen to head up... (full context)
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Roberto asks Gerardo if he would like to hear the “real real truth” about why he’s come to... (full context)
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Gerardo thanks Roberto, and the two men laugh about how Paulina gave Gerardo’s car jack to... (full context)
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Roberto says there’s no need for Gerardo to thank him. As a doctor, Roberto explains, he likes to help people. He says... (full context)
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Roberto expresses the view that he’s for “killing the whole bunch of them.” Gerardo respectfully disagrees, saying that the death penalty never solved anything. Roberto insists that “there are... (full context)
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Gerardo explains to Roberto that one of the many problems the Commission will face is that... (full context)
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Gerardo tells Roberto “in confidence” that the president believes that there are “people who are ready... (full context)
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Realizing the late hour, Roberto prepares to leave. Gerardo insists that he stay the night with them, refusing to take no for an answer.... (full context)
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Gerardo shows Roberto his room, apologizing that he can’t offer him a toothbrush. Roberto dismisses him,... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
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Paulina explains that she was fortunate that she had Gerardo to turn to after she left university. She’s heard that, now that the military isn’t... (full context)
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...the moment, a monologue.” She says he can have his say in good time, once Gerardo wakes up. Opening up her bedroom door, she tells Roberto that the “real real truth”... (full context)
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Paulina calls out to Gerardo, “Isn’t this quartet marvelous, my love?” She says to Roberto that now she’ll be able... (full context)
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Gerardo comes in, dozy from sleep. It takes him a moment to notice the scene in... (full context)
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...voice she recognizes, continues Paulina, but his laugh and “certain phrases he uses.” She tells Gerardo that not an hour has gone by when she hasn’t heard that voice: “that same... (full context)
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Gerardo pleads with Paulina to put down the gun, saying there is “no possible dialogue” while... (full context)
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Gerardo asks Paulina to untie Roberto. When she insists that she won’t, he moves towards Roberto.... (full context)
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Paulina suddenly remembers that that she has phoned a mechanic and tells Gerardo to get dressed to greet him. Gerardo pleads with her to “start being reasonable.” She... (full context)
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The mechanics truck pulls up outside, prompting Paulina to close the curtains. Gerardo asks her if she’s considered that he could call the police. She doubts he would... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...Roberto these things as if he is her “confessor.” There are things she’s never told Gerardo, let alone her mother, she says. Roberto gestures to her. If she’s hungry, says Paulina,... (full context)
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Paulina continues, talking about Gerardo. Roberto’s colleagues, she says, wanted to know who was “fucking” her. She never gave up... (full context)
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Gerardo arrives back at the house, prompting Paulina to pick up the gun again. She asks... (full context)
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...him that everything he says will be on tape. Roberto coughs and begs for water. Gerardo gives him some which he gulps down thirstily. “Beats drinking your own piss,” says Paulina. (full context)
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Roberto addresses Gerardo, saying, “this is inexcusable. I will never forgive you as long as I live.” Paulina... (full context)
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...she is in command. Roberto says he needs to go to the bathroom. She makes Gerardo untie Roberto’s legs and insists that she, not Gerardo, will accompany him to the bathroom:... (full context)
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Paulina escorts Roberto to the toilet at gunpoint. When they return, she makes Gerardo tie up Roberto again. Gerardo pleads with Paulina to let him to talk to her... (full context)
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Gerardo questions Paulina’s intentions with these “insane acts.” She says it’s not “vengeance,” as she is... (full context)
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Gerardo, exasperated, asks what Paulina is going to do Roberto, “all this because fifteen years ago... (full context)
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Paulina returns to the topic of the night she was released. She remembers Gerardo saying they would put “these bastards on trial.” She asks him who she’s supposed to... (full context)
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Paulina tells Gerardo that he’s being naïve. She says the Commission can’t help her, as it only deals... (full context)
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Paulina asks Gerardo to “wait just a sec.” She goes back into the living room and sees Roberto... (full context)
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Paulina returns to the terrace and tells Gerardo that it’s not just Roberto’s voice she recognizes—it’s also his skin and his smell. Gerardo... (full context)
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Paulina suggests that she and Gerardo “reach a compromise … Isn’t that what this transition is all about … The Commission... (full context)
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...vulgar” but the doctor “would play Schubert, he would talk about science” and quote Nietzsche. Gerardo is evidently shocked to hear that the doctor who tortured her would quote Nietzsche, as... (full context)
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...their own shit, or electricity.” She explains that she had to fake her orgasms with Gerardo, because any “idea of currents” going through her would remind her of her torture. When... (full context)
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...his victims. If he does that, she says, she will let him go. Paulina instructs Gerardo to convince Roberto to confess: “I’d say it’s a lot more pleasant than having to... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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It’s lunchtime. Gerardo spoon-feeds Roberto soup at the table. Roberto’s hands are now tied in front of him,... (full context)
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Gerardo tells Roberto that he needs to confess, otherwise Paulina will kill him. Roberto protests that... (full context)
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...as “a quiet man.” He says the only mistake he’s made is stopping to help Gerardo. Gerardo tells Roberto that he thinks the best idea is for them to “indulge” Paulina.... (full context)
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Paulina comes back in. Gerardo asks if she can leave so that he can finish his conversation with Roberto. She... (full context)
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Gerardo again suggests that Roberto falsify a confession in order to “indulge” Paulina and be freed.... (full context)
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Roberto’s comments anger Gerardo and he gets up to fetch the gun. He pauses and says that, actually, first... (full context)
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Roberto tells Gerardo that he was only “joking.” Gerardo says that he is going to fetch Paulina and... (full context)
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Roberto agrees that he will forge a confession, but asks Gerardo to acquire all the details he’s going to need in order to make it credible.... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Just before evening, Paulina and Gerardo sit on the terrace facing the sea. Gerardo has the cassette recorder on his lap.... (full context)
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Paulina says she’s already told Gerardo about what happened. He replies that she had started to, fifteen years ago (in reference... (full context)
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Gerardo says, “we’ll die from so much past, so much pain and resentment,” and wants them... (full context)
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Gerardo, increasingly exasperated, say to Paulina that he is her hands: “like a baby, I’ve got... (full context)
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Gerardo asks Paulina never to mention “that bitch of a night again.” If they keep talking... (full context)
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On Gerardo’s instruction, Paulina states her name and the date of her kidnapping. She explains how, on... (full context)
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...in the “interrogation of ninety-four prisoners, including Paulina Salas”—all he asks for now is “forgiveness.” Gerardo pauses the cassette so Roberto can copy out the words. The tape concludes with Roberto’s... (full context)
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...sort of pressure.” He says that’s not true, but writes it down anyway, showing it Gerardo. Gerardo nods. (full context)
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Paulina picks up the paper before putting the confession on again from the beginning. Gerardo tells Paulina “it’s over.” She looks out to sea and sighs deeply. She suddenly turns... (full context)
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Paulina throws Roberto’s car keys to Gerardo and tells him to get his car. Gerardo goes out. Roberto asks to go the... (full context)
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...claims not to understand why Paulina now wants to kill him: after all, she gave Gerardo her word that she would let him go if he confessed. She explains that, whereas... (full context)
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Paulina tells Roberto that, when she had told everything to Gerardo earlier, she deliberately switched the name of one of Roberto’s fellow torturers from “Stud” to... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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It’s some months later. Paulina and Gerardo are at a concert, elegantly dressed. They sit in the crowd (perhaps in the theater... (full context)
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...a “phantasmagoric” quality. A bell goes off, indicating that the concert is about to recommence. Gerardo and Paulina sit down. Roberto takes another seat, eyes fixated on Paulina. As Schubert’s “Death... (full context)