The Decapitated Chicken short story

Horacio Quiroga

“The Decapitated Chicken”

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“The Feather Pillow”


“Juan Darien”


  1. Answer the Questions based on the short stories by Horacio Quiroga


  1. The Decapitated Chicken ( 118 – Latin American Short Stories


This story was published in the short story collection Tales of Love, Madness and Death published in 1917. This is story is one the clearest examples of Horacio Quiroga’s fascination with death, the bizarre and the macabre. It also is a story of lost love, sickness, disease and the inability of the individual to overcome the force of nature.

For an analysis of this story go this link:


  • List the characters of this story.
  • Mention the ages, physical condition and the state of the couple’s marriage as described at the beginning of the story.
  • Describe what happens when the children are born.
  • What is the doctor’s diagnostic?
  • What does the couple think is the reason for the children’s disease?
  • What happens to their marriage after the fourth child?
  • What happens when Bertha is born – describe the parent’s feelings (fear, happiness, and horror).
  • Describe the ending.



  1. The Feather Pillow: Link:


This story was also published in the short story collection Tales of Love, Madness and Death. As you will see this story also contains all elements mentioned in the title of the collection.

For an analysis go to this link:



  • List the characters
  • Describe the woman’s changing feelings throughout the story.
  • What happens to the woman when she starts getting sick.
  • Describe the progression of her sickness.
  • What happens at the end.
  • Mention how the themes of love, madness and death are present in The Feather Pillow and The Decapitated Chicken. Pay attention to the women’s characterization in the stories.




  1. Adrift Link:


This story is a great example of Quiroga’s narrative economy. The story is short, yet it conveys a whole array of emotions, descriptions of the man’s condition and the description of nature – and the connection between both. Notice that the man is working on the land (taming nature) and yet nature surprises the man. The action is straight forward and lineal. The description of the poison through the man’s body is described in almost medical terms – another important theme for Quiroga. Pay attention to the symptoms as the venom progresses in his body. The reader “feels” the intensity of pain and his desire to live. However, in the story there is no sentimentalism – we feel it – but the outcome is inevitable. The description is realistic – full with images of life and death. Pay attention at the description of nature – the colors used to describe it in somber terms but also beautiful and majestic. The story converts a simple accident into a symbol of human expression. The man is left alone “adrift” on the river of life.


  • How does the story begin? Where does it take place?
  • Where does the man’s pain begin?
  • Where does he go after being bitten?
  • What is his wound like when he arrives at his ranch?
  • What does the man want from his wife? Why?
  • Where does he intend to go? Why?
  • What is the wound like when he loses the paddle?
  • Who is Alves?
  • How does he feel at sunset?
  • Who is Dougall
  • What happens to the man?
  • List words used to describe the wound from the moment he is bitten and trace the progress of the poison from the man’s foot throughout his body.
  • List words and passages describing the jungle and the river.
  • How would you characterize nature as presented here – can you see a relationship between the man’s feelings and Nature?


  1. Juan Darien Link:


If there is a story that clearly depicts the clash between civilization and barbarism in Quiroga’s work, this is the one. This is one of my favorite stories because it directly depicts the border – a body that is one and the other or none at the same time. Enjoy this story about a tiger that became a boy. Raised as a human, mistreated by humans – misunderstood and tortured and, escaping back to the jungle.  What is savage in him? What is human? What is savage in other humans? Once upon a time…


For an analysis of this story go to:


  • At the beginning of the story what are we told?
  • What happened to the woman’s family?
  • What does the woman see?
  • What does she do with the tiger? What did she feed him?
  • Who showed up at her door? What did the snake tell her? What was her prophesy?
  • What happened to the tiger?
  • What did she name the boy?
  • Describe his character. Why other kids did not play much with him?


  • What happened when the inspector saw Juan Darien?
  • What psychological procedure he used with the children? What was he theory about it?
  • What did Juan Darien see? From which perspective?
  • What did the inspector want to do with Juan Darien?
  • Why is it that he cannot kill him right away?
  • How are people treating Juan Darien after the inspector’s analysis/diagnosis of Juan Darien?
  • Describe what the town did to Juan Darien to bring the tiger in him.
  • What happened after they tortured him. What did they do to him?


  • What human aspects had he conserved?
  • What are his next actions against humans.
  • How is he breaking his bonds with men?
  • What happens when the man calls him Juan Darien?
  • What is his last act to erase his life as a man?


  • What is the dichotomy between civilization and barbarism in this story?












-Please comment about at least two readings of Horacio Quiroga’s short stories.

What were your favorite stories.

Who are the characters.

Identify elements of horror and the bizarre.

Identify elements of man vs. nature. Identify elements of sickness and the inability of the characters to control diseases and/or their true nature.

Reflect on what do you think Quiroga is trying to linguistically tell us about his personal experience and/or the Latin American experience and/or human experience.


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