Aura Summary

Carlos Fuentes


  • Plot overview and analysis written by an experienced literary critic.
  • Full study guide for this title currently under development.
  • To be notified when we launch a full study guide, please contact us.

Aura Summary

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.  This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Aura by Carlos Fuentes.

Famed Mexican novelist, Carlos Fuentes, published Aura, a novella following a young historian, in 1962. The first English translation came out in 1965, and the work helped establish Fuentes as a leading practitioner of magical realism. The novella is unique for being written entirely in second person.

Aura opens to the protagonist, Felipe Montero, scanning the newspaper for a job. One advert appeals to him: someone is looking for a French-speaking, educated young person to help with various clerical duties, including the completion and eventual publication of a string of ghost written memoirs. The selected candidate would be generously compensated, but would have to live in the house and help a widow catalogue and preserve records from her dead husband, General Llorente. The ad was posted by Señora Consuelo Llorente, who is 105 years old.

Felipe is thrilled by the ad. He feels like he was born for a job like that. Yet he’s positive someone else already snatched the job up. Days pass, and Felipe keeps seeing the ad pop up in his morning paper.

Felipe walks to the listed address to inquire about the position. He doesn’t know if the house will be ancient or recently built. The area, “Donceles 815,” is renowned for juxtaposing old and new homes.

When he arrives, the front door is open slightly, though the house itself seems to be entirely dark. He hears a voice call him. The female voice tells him how to reach her; following her instructions, he goes upstairs to where the widow, Señora Consuelo, lies in bed. Señora Consuelo entreats him to take the job, and, without asking too much about why the individual has to live there, he accepts.

On the way downstairs, Felipe meets Aura, the general’s young and stunning niece. He is enchanted by her green eyes.Aura leads Felipe upstairs to the room he’ll be staying in. The loft area has a glass ceiling. The room is old and musty. Felipe joins Aura in the dining room. They hear cats wailing; Aura says this is normal because there are so many rats in the area.

Dinner is set for four people. Felipe finds it odd that they set a space for the General. During dinner, he recalls some important papers he left on his desk at home. Aura skeptically asks if he’s going to leave them to attend to that business. So as not to displease her, Felipe tells a servant to fetch his papers instead.

That evening, Felipe visits Señora Consuelo’s room to request material from her husband’s life. He finds her praying passionately to a wall of icons. The icons she’s selected to worship are peculiar in that only the demons appear to be pleased with themselves. At one point, Señora Consuelo is so enraptured that she falls over. Felipe rushes to help her get up. Eventually, he acquires a handful of her husband’s work.

Upstairs, in his temporary loft, he reads for a bit before falling asleep. In his readings, he discovers that Señora Consuelo always wanted a child and is obsessed with youth. When he wakes up, he hears the cats. This time, he finds the cats and is horrified to see them all tied together and burning alive. He goes downstairs for breakfast, thinking he had imagined the image.

At breakfast, Felipe scrutinizes Aura. She’s stilted while under the gaze of her aunt. Sometimes when the aunt speaks, Aura appears to be moving her lips. He wonders if Aura is being held in the house against her will. He decides to ask the aunt about this later.

That night he wakes up in the middle of a terrible nightmare. Inexplicably, Aura is naked and straddling him. They have sex. Aura then says Felipe should be her husband, and he agrees.

He proceeds with his regular work, and retrieves the latest collection of papers from Señora Consuelo. He’s disappointed with himself for not confronting her about Aura’s possible house arrest. He opens the door again to speak with her, but finds her dancing in the room with her husband’s old uniform.

Back in his room, Felipe reads that there was a 32-year age difference between husband and wife. The dead general also details her emerald eyes and how she habitually wore a green dress.

That night, Felipe searches for Aura in the house. He sees her, with a neutral expression on her face, beheading a goat. When he retreats upstairs, he sees Señora Consuelo proceeding with the same motions for beheading a goat. Horrified, he runs to his room and locks the door.

That morning, Felipe can’t move his body without great effort. His movements follow the same kind of dreamy, stiff quality as Aura’s movements.

He meets Aura in her room. She washes his feet while staring at a black crucifix without blinking. Then the two dance around the room, in the same sort of waltz that Felipe saw Señora Consuelo give earlier to her dead husband’s uniform. The two go through the motions of the Eucharist, then have sex again.

The next day, Felipe discovers that Señora Consuelo not only watched them have sex, but also spent the night observing their sleep. He goes back to bed, thinking he’s dreaming again.

When he wakes up, he feels a powerful spirit in the room. The spirit follows him; as the morning progresses, he cannot get the spirit away from him. After a while, it starts to control his movements.

He ends up in Señora Consuelo’s room, shifting through the last of the General’s photographs and journals. When he sees younger images of the General, he realizes that he looks exactly like him. Aura too, looks exactly like the 15-year-old woman the General married.

Felipe falls asleep again. When he wakes up in his bed, he has no idea how much time has passed. As if he can no longer control his body, he enters Señora Consuelo’s room. The woman he finds is old, but she is no doubt Aura; they make love.