We’ve already mentioned in class the big metaphor between Antonio’s origami creations and the act of writing. Antonio heals with paper, performing surgery on cats and eventually humans, and he also creates life with paper, through the character we come to know as Merced de Papel. Professor Sample asked for examples of other ways Plascencia references other metaphors of writing in The People of Paper, and the only one I could come up with was the frequent description of blood as ink. There are others.
On page 15, Antonio creates Merced the Papel from pieces of paper that he has collected, including pages from literature: Austen, Cervantes, Leviticus, Judges, and The Book of Incandescent Light. This strikes me as a metaphor for the way an author is influenced by existing literature. However, The Book of Incandescent Light isn’t an actual book, as far as I know (apparently the monk named fifty-three wrote it)-though it is periodically referenced in The People of Paper as if it were an existing book. This is not unlike MZD’s references to completely made-up references in House of Leaves, which scrambled the boundaries between real texts and imaginary ones.
Merced de Papel’s behavior could be interpreted as a symbol for a written work-even a symbol for the written work in which she was created. For example, she steps over Antonio, her creator, when he passes out from exhaustion and paper cuts, and takes on a life of her own. Plascencia has Frederico de la Fe and EMF do something similar to the author, Saturn, when he is made vulnerable by his breakup with Liz (which was due in part to his obsession with writing the book). Also, she causes pain to men who are intimate with her. This could allude to the pain in the novel, the specific pain of a man in love.
There seems to be something significant in the fact that she has the same name as Frederico de la Fe’s wife, Merced, and his daughter, Little Merced. It reminded me of the part of Dream Jungle when Paz Marlowe’s mother reveals that all the miscarried children were given the same names. It may also have something to do with the fact that many of the characters’ actions or situations overlap with the authors’. These characters aren’t static personalities.
I was also confused about how Merced de Papel had “lost her civilization” and why she was the “only known survivor of her people.” Is this a commentary on her specific type of literary character? Who are her people? Why aren’t there any more of them?