Carmen Laforet - To what extent do you think that Nada defends the patriarchal discourse?
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Tracie Narayanasamy SL 332 Contemporary Spanish Literature Essay 1 e) To what extent do you think that Nada defends the Patriarchal Discourse? Carmen Laforet's Nada is set in 1940s post-civil war Barcelona, and is narrated in retrospect by the main protagonist, Andrea. After having spent the war years in a convent, an eighteen-year-old Andrea comes to Barcelona to live with her dead mother's relatives in order to pursue an academic career in letras. Andrea arrives at the family home, full of youthful enthusiasm, only to discover that nothing is as she had expected it to be, with the house on Aribau Street bearing no resemblance to the prosperous, happy home she had visited as a child. In the year that follows, Andrea becomes embroiled in the sordid intrigues surrounding the lives of the inhabitants of Calle Aribau, while at the same time forming a provident friendship with a university companion, Ena. Finally, just as it seems she is destined to spend the foreseeable future at Calle Aribau, Andrea is provided a timely escape route through an invitation to live with Ena and her wealthy family in Madrid. In style, Nada could be said to resemble a pastiche of inverted fairy tales, which seemingly culminate in the happy ending eluded so many times throughout the book.
(p267). Andrea's grief could be read in two ways: like Gloria, as demonstrating an inability to distance herself from a dangerous man or as retrospective admiration for a man whose final act clearly flies in the face of patriarchal and religious discourses. Ostensibly, a reading of Andrea's character and those of the three female characters that appear to affect her most - Aunt Angustias, Ena and her mother Margarita - would seem to reinforce patriarchal discourse by adhering to the notion that there are only two viable options available to women. As Angustias points out to Andrea, "..sólo hay dos caminos para la mujer. Dos únicos caminos honrosos", (p94) referring to the choice of marriage or, ultimately, the convent. True to her own words, Angustias leaves Aribau to enter a convent, despite holding no firm religious beliefs, when it becomes clear that marriage is not an option after a long-term, ill-fated affair with her boss. Margarita, on the other hand, has fulfilled her destiny as mother and wife, as she confides to Andrea, "Fue ella, la niña, quien me descubrió la fina urdimbre de la vida...Fue Ena la que me hizo querer a su padre."
This said, the fact remains that we are left with an ambiguous ending that leaves us to draw our own conclusions, and perhaps a glimmer of hope in Andrea's equally ambiguous words at the end of the novel, "De la casa de Aribau no me llevaba nada. Al menos, asi creía yo entonces" (p275). Sadly however, there appears to be nothing outstanding in Andrea's character, to challenge Falangist ideology as espoused by Pilar Primo de Rivera, "Las mujeres nunca descubren nada...; nosotras no podemos hacer nada más que interpretar mejo o peor lo que los hombres han hecho." 7 Notes 1 Spanish Cultural Studies. Graham, H. Gender and the State; Women in the 1940s, p184 2 Ordóñez, E.J. Voices of Their Own. Cited in notes p212 3 Sección Feminina de La Falange. Cited in class handout. Nada. Week 5 4 Jordan, B. Nada, Critical guides to Spanish texts. p112 5 Ordóñez, E.J. Voices of Their Own. p37 6 Jordan, B. Nada, Critical guides to Spanish texts. p112 7 Pilar Primo de Rivera. Cited in class handout. Nada. Week 1 All quotes from Nada, not given page numbers are taken directly from class handouts Nada. Weeks 1, 5 & 7. The rest are taken directly from the edition cited below in the bibliography.
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