House Taken Over | Summary, Synopsis, Themes & Characters

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About the Story-House Taken Over

TitleHouse Taken Over
AuthorJulio Cortázar
Publication Year1946
GenreShort Story, Horror
SettingA family home in an unspecified city
ProtagonistsIrene and the narrator (siblings)
ThemesLoss, decay, the uncanny
Writing StyleSurreal, atmospheric

House Taken Over Characters

  1. Irene – The protagonist and narrator of the story. She lives with her brother, and they are both middle-aged siblings living in their ancestral house.
  2. Irene’s Brother – The brother of Irene. He lives with her in their family home.
  3. House – The ancestral house where Irene and her brother live. It holds deep sentimental value to them and has been passed down through generations.
  4. Unknown Presence – An unseen force that gradually takes control of the house, causing Irene and her brother to abandon different parts of the house one by one.

House Taken Over Themes

  1. Loss and Displacement – The story explores the themes of loss and displacement as Irene and her brother are gradually forced out of their ancestral home by the unknown presence.
  2. The Unseen and the Unexplained – Cortázar uses the unknown presence as a symbol of the unexplained and the unseen, emphasizing the mysterious and inexplicable aspects of life.
  3. Fear and Surrealism – The story invokes a sense of fear and unease as the characters’ familiar surroundings become strange and hostile. The surreal elements add to the sense of disorientation and uncertainty.

House Taken Over Synopsis

House Taken Over” is a short story by Julio Cortázar. It follows Irene and the narrator, siblings living in an ancestral house. Mysterious occurrences escalate and the house becomes overtaken by an unknown force.

As the siblings are forced to flee, the story explores the psychological impact of losing their home.

With an emphasis on atmosphere rather than explanation, the tale leaves readers pondering the enigmatic nature of the takeover.

Watch the Analysis & Sumamry of “House Taken Over” on YouTube

House Taken Over Full Summary

The narrator opens the narrative by describing a beautiful residence in Buenos Aires. He and his sister Irene share the home. The house has been in their family for generations and can accommodate a large family. It is so enormous that the two siblings spend five hours cleaning it daily. The narrator speculates that the house’s regular upkeep is why he and Irene never married. He had a sweetheart, Maria Esther, who died before he could propose. Irene has turned down two guys for marriage over the years. The storyteller & Irene are now in their 40s & want to stay in the house till the end of their lives. He fears that a distant relative would have the home razed after their deaths to make way for essential resources and a parcel of land. He considers demolishing it before it happens.

Irene spends a significant amount of time knitting. According to her brother, Irene knits functional clothing, unlike other ladies who knit. When he goes shopping, he selects wool for her. While out and about, he frequently stops in bookstores to acquire books. He like French literature but argues that novels worth reading have yet to arrive in Argentina in years. He discovers a chest full of Irene’s colourful knitting one day but is too terrified to ask her what she intends to do with it. They do not need to work to make money. Instead, they make money from outlying farms that they inherited.

The narrator goes into further detail about the house. It consists of two wings connected by a massive oak door. The reading area, dining space, living area, & spare bedrooms are all in one branch. The other wing houses the bedrooms of the narrator and Irene, as well as the kitchen and a bathroom. The storyteller and Irene spend most of their time here. When the door is closed from the outside, the building appears to hold a little flat. When the door is open, it is clear that the house is rather vast. The narrator adds that the house has plenty of dirt due to the Buenos Aires environment, and cleaning it is practically difficult.

While cooking a hot drink in the kitchen one evening, the narrator hears a noise in the back wing of the home. He dashes to the oak door, shoves it shut with his entire body, and locks it with a massive bolt. After finishing the drink, he walks upstairs to inform Irene that he has closed the door because he has heard burglars taking over the back half of the property. She pauses, knitting a grey sweater to inquire whether he is confident. When he admits he is, Irene says they would have to live on only one side of the house from now on.

The storyteller & Irene acclimatize to living on one side of the house during the following few days. They miss the items they left behind, such as the narrator’s pipe, French literary volumes, Irene’s stationery, and warm slippers. They feel better that cleaning now takes considerably less time, and they cook and dine together at the little table in Irene’s room. Irene prepares dinner in the middle of the day, intending to eat it cold later.

Rene enjoys knitting in her spare time. Because the narrator needs to include his books, he reorganizes his father’s stamp collection. Irene occasionally shows the storyteller her knitting. The narrator occasionally shows Irene the stamps. They eventually cease thinking much. Even though their sleeping areas are divided by living space, they can hear each other’s tiniest movements at night. The narrator finds it disturbing that Irene talks in her sleep. Irene informs the storyteller that he flails & kicks off his covers in his sleep. The little noises make it difficult for them to sleep.

Except for the frequent noises of knitting, it is silent during the day. In the kitchen, the narrator and Irene converse openly & Irene even sings lullabies. Kitchens, according to the narrator, are generally loud places. The kitchen shares a wall with the area of the house that the invaders have taken over. When the speaker and Irene are on the other wing, they keep silent so as not to disturb one another. Their days become repetitive and monotonous.

The narrator goes to the kitchen for a sip of water one evening while Irene is crocheting. He hears the sound of invaders in the cooking area or the bathroom. Irene approaches him, and they watch the sounds grow louder. The speaker of the story and Irene depart immediately. The narrator grabs Irene’s arm and pushes her to flee. They exit the house, closing the door behind them. According to Irene, someone has taken over half of the home. She notices the yarn thread linked to her knitting is dragging beneath the door.

The majority of the yarn is still inside the house. Irene then abandons her knitting. When the storyteller asks if Irene has brought anything, she responds no. The narrator recalls leaving a large sum of cash in the house. He checks his watch and realizes it is late at night. He closes the door so that no unfortunate robbers can enter and dumps the key into the sewer. He is in a lousy mood and assumes Irene is sobbing. He finally brings Irene out onto the street.

House Taken Over FAQs

What is the main idea of the story House Taken Over?

The main idea of the story “House Taken Over” is the mysterious invasion of a brother and sister’s ancestral home by an unseen force, leading them to abandon the house.

What is the thesis of House Taken Over?

The thesis of “House Taken Over” is the gradual displacement and loss of identity experienced by the protagonists as an unknown force gradually takes control of their house.

What do the siblings do with the key House Taken Over?

The siblings unlock a hidden room in the house with the key, discovering a portal to another dimension where they embark on thrilling adventures.

What is the climax of the House Taken Over?

The climax of “House Taken Over” is when the mysterious force that has invaded the house forces the siblings to flee, leaving their ancestral home behind.

What happens to the narrator and Irene in House Taken Over?

In “House Taken Over,” the fate of the narrator and Irene remains ambiguous. They are forced to abandon their home as an unseen presence gradually takes control.

How do the siblings make money in House Taken Over?

In “House Taken Over,” the siblings make money by renting out rooms in their house, generating income from the tenants who occupy the additional space.

What is the allure of fear in House Taken Over?

The allure of fear in “House Taken Over” lies in its ability to create suspense, tension and a sense of the unknown, capturing readers’ attention and evoking a thrilling, visceral experience.

About the Author (Julio Cortázar)

house taken over summary
Full NameJulio Cortázar
Birth DateAugust 26, 1914
Death DateFebruary 12, 1984
Notable Works-Hopscotch
-Blow-up and Other Stories
-The Axolotl
Literary MovementPostmodernism
Writing StyleExperimental, Surreal, Metafiction
Major ThemesTime, Identity, Reality vs. Illusion, Nonlinear Narratives
Awards & HonorsCervantes Prize (1984), French Legion of Honor (1983)
InfluencesEdgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges

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