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"In Batiste's determination to continue the struggle lies the essence of Blasco Ibaez's optimism. La barraca is a novel of protest, not of hopelessness" (G. Cheyne). To what extent do you agree with this statement?

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"In Batiste's determination to continue the struggle lies the essence of Blasco Iba�ez's optimism. La barraca is a novel of protest, not of hopelessness" (G. Cheyne). To what extent do you agree with this statement? I do not fully agree with the above opinion given by Cheyne. I do think that what he says is partly true but to say that the novel is lacking the theme of hopelessness would be wrong. It is more apt to say that the novel displays both a sense of protest from its characters and also a sense of hopelessness. In this essay I intend to explore the themes of hopelessness and of protest, discussing how they interact and thereby provide a sense of fate in the novel. Furthermore I will talk about what devices Blasco uses to emphasise these themes to the reader. From the beginning of Batiste's arrival in the huerta, the fields in which he works and lives have a sense of doom attached to them. Piment� assures the huertanos that Bastiste's farming of the fields will not be successful and his efforts to do so would be stopped: �l, lo �nico que podia asegurar es que el tal sujeto no coger�a el trigo, ni las habas, ni todo lo que hab�a plantado en los campos de Barret. Aquello ser�a para el demonio.1 I would say that the way in which the whole of the village side against Batiste is a negative value of society that Blasco wishes to display through the device of the undefined group of people that exist within the village. ...read more.


The general circularity of the novel suggests that the same story that we have read could occur again and again. Batiste and, in fact the peasant population of Valencia will struggle against the perils of life for eternity. I agree with Medina in saying that the pauses in the main story, such as Roseta's love affair with Tonet are important. As Medina says they offer us "...momentary hope, but collapse in tragedy."9 This would not, as the title quotation suggests show an essence of optimism from Blasco but rather pessimism. The moments of joy for the characters in the novel are purely fleeting. Chapter eight is also important structurally in the novel. It makes the reader feel a sense of hope for Batiste and his family and displays compassion from the villagers. Blasco creates this sense of hope for the future of Batiste and his family in order to induce the reader into a more dramatic, emotional climax to their reading of the novel. However, Blasco tells us at the end of chapter eight that Batiste's hope for the future is na�ve: "Batiste, siempre inm�vil, miraba como unidiota las estrellas..."10. Still Blasco maintains the fa�ade of optimism at the start of chapter nine: "Todo era alegr�a, trabajo gozoso."11 The happiness has ended by the end of chapter nine and alcohol is the direct catalyst to the downfall of Batiste, as it was for t�o Barret. The story of Barret introduces the theme of doom to the fields that Batiste will later come to work on. ...read more.


This contact with the ghost could be interpreted as a symbol of an outside force ruling over the huerta that fits in with my previous idea of mysticism in the novel. Moving away from the idea of outside forces in the novel, the existence of the tavern in Alboraya is directly the most significant, physical aspect of it. It could only be said that Blasco sees alcohol as having a negative affect on the men in the novel. Both Barret and Batiste go to the Tavern before committing their violent acts. Alcohol plays an important part in the lives of the huertanos as it is a way of escapism from their brutal and hard lives but its abuse inevitably leads to violence. Interestingly both Barret and Batiste are sober men but their brief entry into the Tavern causes them to lose their inhibitions towards violence.22 The alcohol that they drink causes them to become animal-like and uncontrollable. In conclusion, in my opinion the novel is one of protest and of hopelessness. Batiste does display great determination throughout the novel but the important fact to remember is that by the end of it, he has come back to where he started, with nothing. I believe that Blasco Ib��ez's displays nothing but pessimism for the factors that cause Batiste to fail in the Valencian lands. There is a sense all through the novel of hopelessness and I think that Blasco intended the reader to instinctually know that Batiste was not going to be able to protest or struggle enough in order to succeed against all of the obstacles put in his way. ...read more.

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