“The Censors:” Methods of Suspense, Essay Example

“The Censors” is a short story by Luisa Valenzuela that talks about a man named Juan who joins The Directorate of Censorship to intercept his letter written to Mariana. There are several methods of suspense used throughout the story to create a sense of mystery but the most prevalent techniques implemented are time and worry.

The passage begins with Juan being unable to sleep or concentrate because of a letter he wrote to a friend named Mariana. Valenzuela writes,

“Without thinking twice, he sat down at his desk and wrote a letter. The letter. The same one that now prevents him from concentrating on his work during the day and doesn’t let him sleep when night comes (what did he put in that letter, what had stuck to that sheet of paper that he sent to Mariana?)”

Such worry causes Juan to join The Directorate of Censorship, and leaves the audience in suspense. The average reader becomes intrigued with the story for the mere purpose of possibly discovering what Juan wrote to Mariana.

In addition to worry, Luisa uses time to captivate the audience and create a sense of mystery in the story. Although the author establishes that Juan applied for employment with the censorship department to “try to intercept his own letter” in the fourth paragraph, the reader does not find out that the central character is successful in his endeavors until the end of the story. In the final sentences of her mystery Valenzuela writes, “He was at the point of feeling proud of himself, he was at the point of knowing that he had finally found his true path, when his own letter reached his hands. Naturally he condemned it without remorse.” The author essentially makes the reader wait until the end of the story to find out if Juan found success or failure on his journey in order to build suspense and wonder.