the short story project

The Pit

Our Editors On:

The Pit by Santiago Roncagliolo

It’s hard to read Roncagliolo’s story without thinking about The Pit and the Pendulum by Poe. Even though our protagonist is not subject to the atrocities experienced by Poe’s hero, they appear in the reader’s literary imagination, they are present in the story, in the horror that the protagonist or anyone else can experience, as says Wordsworth, his friend and confidant. This story, like Poe’s tale, occurs during the last days of a war and temptation and secrecy stand in the heart of it. But a humorous, complacent air drifts through Roncagliolo’s story, and it seems as though the reader himself is an accomplice to the terrible joke played on the hero. What horrible secret are the men in the club hiding? Why is their humorous, ritualistic behavior so terrifying? It seems as though Roncagliolo is reminding us what lurks behind western man’s air of satisfaction: a deep, menacing, terrifying pit.