There are abundant situations in everyday life where your dear life is in the hands of a maniac who wants to kill or molest you to satisfy his flimsy fancies or desires. The villain of The Blue bouquet is such a character who is in search of blue eyes to present a bouquet of blue eyes to his beloved. It shows the extent of idiocy and cruelty that senseless love and passion can sometimes entail.
The story also makes us to ponder over suspended terror in everyday life. An apparently calm moment can turn sinister and stage macabre scenes. A bouquet of flowers can turn into a bomb to annihilate us (Rajiv Gandhi massacre ). A cozy trip can culminate in a traumatic incident to stab our memory. The story beautifully captures this angst that pervades in our everyday life
A dishevelled man wakes from a sweat-drenching nightmare, furiously shaking his shirt and pants free of possible small jungle creatures, and hastily dresses to face the utterly dreamlike reality of remote Mexico, a torpid limbo. He is a lost soul from the American middle-class, middle aged and unmoored, now alone in a squalid hotel. The owner of the makeshift inn, one-eyed man, warns him to stay put for his own safety.
Disregarding this, the stubborn man takes a brief, circular walk through the alley and he is suddenly set upon by a stranger. The predatory figure bears a machete and a slender knife, which he will use to cut the eyes from his head in order to present this penitent, macabre offering of a bouquet of blue eyes to his bewitching lover. The fervor of the man’s obsessed mission, his dizzying persuasiveness to grab the sacrificial price that might reunite him with her, and his menacing wit and insight, push the victim’s wit to its limits.
The story is rich in ironic pathos, humor, cruelty and metaphor. The encounter itself with its chilling implications and cruel irony are expressed without much emotion. All action and no emotion to distract create an intense capsule in a third person perspective which I think is what happens to a lot of people in extreme unavoidable dangerous situations. The mind has a way of distancing, even thinking mundane thoughts like the colour of his shirt, in a defence mechanism to be able to think clearly until the fight or flight responses are initiated. The aftermath is what is forever and crippling. The blue eyes may have (not sure) strong Nazi connotations and all its attendant irrationality, madness, mania etc.
We know almost nothing about the man threatened with the loss of his eyes, since the crux of the story is not biography but confrontation- that moment of danger in which the man finds himself, a moment such as any of us could experience.
Faced with such danger, he loses whatever fragment of individuality he may have for us, and all that matters is the color of his eyes. Creating quiet subtle menace is an art and Octavio Paz has succeeded in it.