This chapter discusses the four kinds of characters that create conflict in Bolaño’s fiction: the accomplice, the dictator, the sociopath, and the administrator—individuals driven to not only dominate, but also to destroy the lives of others. The dictator Pinochet (By Night in Chile) and the sociopath Wieder (Distant Star) are portrayed from a distance, in satirical and fantastic modes respectively. The administrator Sammer (2666) and the accomplice Urrutia Lacroix (By Night in Chile) draw the reader into their mental worlds, but fail to justify what they have done. Bolaño’s work presents an anatomy of evil, distinguishing its varieties and showing how they can interact “symbiotically” to produce atrocities. Yet this naturalistic anatomizing does not fully explain the phenomenon. For reasons that relate both to practicalities in his represented worlds and to narrative technique, there is a secret of evil in his writing that must remain a secret.
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