Hopscotch – Summary & Ending Explained

Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar is a literary masterpiece that defies traditional narrative conventions. The novel follows the enigmatic Horacio Oliveira, an Argentine intellectual living in Paris, and his tumultuous relationships with lovers and friends. What sets “Hopscotch” apart is its unconventional structure, offering readers multiple ways to engage with the narrative.

The novel is divided into two parts: “From the Other Side” and “From This Side.” The first part explores Oliveira’s life in Paris, his romantic entanglements, and his philosophical musings. The second part invites readers to “hopscotch” through the chapters in a non-linear fashion, creating a unique reading experience. Readers can choose to follow the conventional order or hop between chapters as Oliveira himself contemplates different paths in life.

The narrative is rich with existential reflections, intellectual debates, and avant-garde experimentation. Cortázar incorporates elements of jazz, philosophy, and linguistic playfulness, inviting readers to engage with the novel on multiple levels. The novel culminates in a metaphysical exploration as Oliveira grapples with his identity, relationships, and the elusive pursuit of meaning.


Horacio Oliveira: The protagonist and central figure of the novel, Oliveira is a complex and introspective character. A Parisian intellectual of Argentine descent, he grapples with existential questions, romantic desires, and a sense of detachment. Oliveira’s internal monologues and philosophical ponderings make him a fascinating yet enigmatic character.

La Maga (Lucía): Oliveira’s lover and a pivotal figure in the narrative, La Maga is an Argentine woman with a mysterious past. Her artistic sensibility, playful nature, and struggles with mental health contribute to the novel’s exploration of human connection and the fragility of sanity.

Traveling Companions: The novel introduces a diverse cast of characters who form Oliveira’s circle of friends in Paris. From the intellectual Etienne to the free-spirited artist Talita, each character brings a unique perspective to the narrative. Their interactions and conversations contribute to the novel’s exploration of art, literature, and the complexities of human relationships.

Cortázar’s characters are not merely vessels for the plot but vehicles for philosophical exploration, inviting readers to delve into the intricacies of human experience.

Hopscotch Ending Explained

Note: Spoiler Alert

The ending of “Hopscotch” is deliberately open-ended and ambiguous, aligning with the novel’s overall experimental nature. As readers navigate the unconventional structure, they encounter multiple possible endings and are invited to choose their own conclusion.

One interpretation centers on Oliveira’s existential crisis and his attempt to transcend the limitations of traditional narrative. In the final chapters, Oliveira contemplates suicide, symbolizing a desire to break free from the constraints of linear storytelling. However, the act remains unresolved, echoing the novel’s theme of indeterminacy and the unknowable nature of life.

The novel’s unconventional structure, allowing readers to engage with chapters in various orders, implies that there is no fixed ending. Each reader’s chosen sequence becomes a unique interpretation of Oliveira’s journey, reflecting the subjective nature of storytelling and existence.

Cortázar leaves the conclusion open to interpretation, inviting readers to grapple with questions of agency, choice, and the fluid boundaries between reality and fiction. The ending serves as a reflection of the novel’s overarching theme of embracing uncertainty and the infinite possibilities inherent in the act of reading.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It based on a true story? No, “Hopscotch” is a work of fiction and not based on a true story. While Julio Cortázar drew inspiration from his own experiences and philosophical inquiries, the novel is a creative exploration of existential themes, intellectual discourse, and the nature of narrative. The characters and events are products of Cortázar’s imagination, and the novel’s experimental structure adds an additional layer of artistic invention.

What is the main idea of the book? The main idea of “Hopscotch” revolves around the search for meaning in an existential and chaotic world. Cortázar uses the novel’s unconventional structure to challenge traditional storytelling, inviting readers to participate actively in the creation of meaning. Themes of love, identity, and the pursuit of intellectual and artistic fulfillment permeate the narrative. The novel serves as a philosophical exploration of the human condition, emphasizing the inherent complexity and ambiguity of life.

Is this book worth reading? Absolutely. “Hopscotch” is a unique and intellectually stimulating work that challenges conventional notions of storytelling. Julio Cortázar’s innovative approach to narrative structure, coupled with his profound exploration of existential themes, makes the novel a rewarding and thought-provoking read. Whether for its literary experimentation, philosophical depth, or evocative prose, “Hopscotch” offers a distinctive reading experience that resonates with those who appreciate literary innovation.

What is the symbolism in this book? “Hopscotch” is rich in symbolism, with the game of hopscotch itself serving as a metaphor for life’s unpredictable journey. The novel’s structure, allowing readers to choose different paths, symbolizes the multiplicity of experiences and interpretations. The characters’ names, such as La Maga (The Magician), evoke symbolic qualities, and recurring motifs like jazz music and chess contribute to the novel’s layered symbolism. Cortázar’s use of symbols invites readers to engage in a deeper exploration of the novel’s themes and the complexity of human existence.

Can you recommend me any other interesting books of this author? Certainly. If you enjoy Cortázar’s innovative narrative style, his collection of short stories, “Blow-Up and Other Stories,” showcases his mastery of the form. The stories encompass a range of themes, from the surreal to the philosophical, offering a diverse and captivating reading experience. Additionally, “The Bestiary” is a collaboration between Cortázar and artist Juan Carlos Onetti, combining short stories and illustrations in a unique exploration of the fantastical and the absurd.

Can you recommend me other interesting books in the similar genre? If you appreciate experimental literature and unconventional narrative structures, Jorge Luis Borges’ “Ficciones” is a seminal work in the genre. Borges’ short stories delve into metaphysical and philosophical realms, challenging the boundaries of reality and fiction. Additionally, Alain Robbe-Grillet’s “Jealousy” is a pioneering work of the nouveau roman movement, known for its meticulous attention to detail and dissection of narrative conventions. Both works share thematic resonances with “Hopscotch” in their exploration of literary experimentation and the complexities of perception.