The themes concentrated on female issues such as motherhood, elationships, female relations, power, suppression, societal Ideas and most importantly identity. While there was indeed the publishing of many memoirs that dealt with an individual experiences and identity, Montero and Gaite, among others, chose to write books exploring the collective experiences of their generation. They highlight the fact that, while classes and political views may have divided them. they shared a communal experience of life under Francffs regime and the impact that had on shaping their Identity. hile female identity Is the most explored element of oth novel, in neither is the male ignored, In both novels Montero and Gaite employ the use of language and popular culture to illustrate and also subvert different ideas gender Identity. 30th use elements of language and culture not only to Illustrate their influence on gender perception but also to influence and challenge the readers understanding of traditional views on gender identity. In order to understand the role that language and culture has in influencing identity in these novels, it is important to examine the society portrayed in them.
Francoist Spain treated women as second class citizens. Enshrined In the constitution was the idea of ‘permiso marital’. Without the husband’s permission, a wife was forbidden to do anything. (C talks about how even interior decorating had to approved first by the husband) She was Ilke his property. The female’s role was resigned to that of wife and mother. They were Inoculated with ideas of submission and inferiority by the Seccion Feminina, which was responsible for the education and training of women .
In their words, women were neither Innovative nor creative, ‘Las mu]eres nunca descubren nada: Ies falta, desde luego, el talento creador’ Women’s ducation was also influenced by Roman Catholic ethos. An emphasis was placed on religion and domestic Instruction. (Antonia’s own mother was Illiterate and had to have Antonia’s letters read to her). Females were unable or were discouraged from taking an academic or other role than differed from the traditional female role. ( CS mother was unable to pursue her studies) Traditional gender stereotypes were also reinforced through culture and their language.
There was strict censorship on all forms of culture. Ideas and images of the perfect female models were unrealistic. They were expected to be patient, sweet and passive. Role models Included Isabel la Catholica, a Spanish saint. Through magazines, Bolerffs. film reels and radio, gender stereotypes were portrayed and reinforced, for both male and female. Those that transgressed trom these traditional roles were portrayed in a negative light in popular culture of the Franco regime.
Both Montero and Gaite recognize the Influence that this culture had on the formation of, not only their Identity, but that of influence and also illustrate the impossible and damaging aspects of solely using hese cultural ideas in identity formation. (However, Gaite, does also note some of the positive and unintentional positive impacts of culture on her identity). Both use culture as a means to connect and identify with others of their generation and those that shared similar experiences. The language of both novels provides an essential tool in creating the idea of gender identity. Both Montero and Rosa use different forms of metaphysical narrative in order to create an idea of identity. Montero uses the a mixture of third person narrative, Bolero’s, articles, transcripts , letters and diary entries in order to llow us to understand the different types of gender roles at play throughout the novel. By starting the text with Mancebo’s article we are allowed an insight the male perspective and the gender stereotypes reinforced by society .
Bella, as she doesn’t fit in with the traditional female identity is portrayed as abnormal and masculine,(‘era much mas alta y mucho mas orpulenta que el infortunado’) while Antonio in many areas is shaped into the ideal male model envisaged by society. (‘Los vecinos aseguran que don Antonio fue siempre un hombre callodo y educado que nunca dio ugar a escandalos’ ) Through the article and the transcripts we see the typical male attitude. All condemn Bella and see Antonio in a positive light . The rest of the story is told through the third person narrative with interjections of different forms of text and narration throughout.
The sceptical and ironic tone of the third person narrator constantly urges us to challenge and question the validity and the possibility of the traditional stereotypes portrayed in the text in relation to gender identity. Antonia’s letter to her mother illustrates female passivity and subordination and the maternal ole in the sense of female identity in society. Antonia adopts a maternal tone for both Antonio and Damian . But the last letter highlights a change, Antonia makes herself the subject. It is known from the third person narration this change has occurred due to her happiness in challenging the social stereotypes with Damian.
Antonio’s machista identity that he displays in public, such as his dealing with Inspector Garcia is contrasted against the narrator’s description of his feminine appearance and his romanticised diary entries. By using different forms of narrative, he author, not only shapes an image of gender identity within the society from different perspectives but also challenges it. A metaphysical narration is also used to great effect within El Cuarto de atras in order to create an image of gender identity.
Gaite uses the first person narrative except at the beginning and the end. This novel combines biographical elements with memory, metafiction and fiction in order to create a collective vision . Thus this narration influences our understanding of the identity of a whole generation of women, rather than Just the protagonist. The fact that the narration is not strictly linear in both texts also influences identity perception. Montero gives the conclusion of the story at the start and then we work through the novel to understand how matters came to be as they are.
Throughout the novel we are offered information on the characters past that help our understanding of the character’s in their present state. (for example Antonio and Antonia’s experience living with a patriarchal father and a submissive mother) In el cuarto de atras, there is much Jumping back and forth to the past and present as C n chronological order. Both texts almost have a circular lineage, which highlights the fact that to understand the present, or oneself in the present, it is important to look to the past as we are shaped by our experiences.
The first person narrative and the emphasis on the importance of the ‘el hombre negro’ as an interlocutor and the inclusion of Antonia’s letters highlight an important point in relation to identity, the importance of telling ones story in order to enable understanding and self discovery. In relation to the language used and its’ influence on gender identity, different echniques are employed. In Te Tratare Como a ulna Reina, the book starts with the article in which there is a manipulation of language that subverts gender stereotypes.
This subversion is continued throughout the novel in both the transcripts and the third person narrative, where there is a distortion in the use of traditional terms in relation to different genders. Bella in the article is defeminised, typically male orientate adjectives, verbs and adverbs are used. (‘sentarse sobre el’,’una fuerza enorme’). As she does not fit in with the female stereotype adjectives, ouns and adverbs are used to highlight her abnormality such as ‘ensanamiento’, ‘bestial’, ‘locura’,’anormal’ . ‘loca’ is also a noun used to describe society’s perception of a forward woman in el cuarto de atras) Antonio is also emasculated, coming across as weak and the weaker of the two sexes. (‘huir’, ‘el debil’, ‘atrapado’). Throughout the novel, Antonio is repeatedly feminised by the language in which Montero uses to describe him. He has similar physical characteristics to his mother and his diary entries are full of flowery effeminate language. At the end of the novel, e see Antonio crying and behaving in a very effeminate way. The subversion of gender norms challenges and ridicules the traditional view of gender identity.
In el cuarto de atras the description of ‘el hombre negro’ provides us with a varied representations of the male identity. By acting as the interlocutor, he is described as the opposite of the Francoist ideal man, aiding female creativity rather than oppressing it. Through her linkage of him to the Raimundo of the novela rosa, she gives us information on the idealised male hero and the conversation with Carolina lso serves to contrast the ideal images of the perfect man with the idea of a man who is abusive, cold and adulterous. (Highlighting the difference between fiction and reality). Through their use of language to describe different characters, both Montero and Gaite present ideas surrounding gender identity and ask the reader to challenge them. Symbols, metaphors and imagery are used in both the novels in order to shape gender identity in the novels and to influence the reader’s perception of this identity. The mirror is a powerful metaphor in both of the novels in relation to the discovering f one’s own identity.
Antonia in chapter one stares into the mirror. She views her image very negatively, perhaps symbolising her feelings of inadequacy for failing to live up to the traditional image of female identity. She draws herself closer and closer to the mirror, which can be seen as symbolizing her attempt to discover herself C in el cuarto de atras also uses a number of mirrors in her search of self identity. As Schumm states the mirror acts as a metaphor of the ongoing dialogue between the past and present throughout.
C uses mirrors and other reflective objects to eawaken memories and engage with the past. In the kitchen C looks into the mirror of rebelling and who would disapprove of her cleaning (‘Anda que tambi©n t? limpiando, vivir para ver’) . According to Schumm reflects the process of continual identity formation and how the past can help with a present situation. The use of ‘el cuarto de atras is also an important metaphor. Not only does the room actually exist but it also a part of oneself, it is a collection of our memories and experiences that help shape our identity.
This part of her identity remains hidden behind ‘una cortina’, ut of reach of the Francoist suppression . The sowing box and room full of objects in el cuarto de atras, Just like Antonia’s box of relics from past male encounters all signify the memories and events that help shape one’s identity. El hombre negro can symbolize many things from the devil, to C’s own fears. What is clear, however, is that he stands for an interlocutor, whether real or imaginary, who is an integral part of self discovery achieved through telling one’s story .
The names of the characters themselves also are significant in shaping our understanding of the character’s dentity. In Te tratare como a una reina, the names of the characters can act as allegories, an insight into their identities. Antonia can symbolise her subjugation by a patriarchal society. Her name is simply the female version of her father’s. Benigno illustrates his benign personality and his submissiveness to society’s stereotypes. Mancebo is an archaic word, signifying servitude to others, in this case to another male character, Antonio.
Bella’s name contrasts sharply with the masculine characterization of her by the male characters . In el cuarto de atras, C’s name can lso offer insight into, not only her identity, but also female identity. She links the C of her name with ‘cuarto, casa, cama, corazon,’ Davies states that this not only alludes to traditional female occupations under the Franco regime but also to areas that allow women to create and write, activities that Gaite views as vital to identity development .
In her conversation with ‘el hombre negro’ C talks of the images role models and standards of the good women in Francoist society. The ideal role model being Isabel la Catholica . In Te tratare como a una reina, the imagery connected with wo of the female characters by the male characters offer us an sight into society’s perception of two female identities, the angel or the whore. Benignds almost worship like aspect of Antonia links her to the image of ‘angel in the house’, while Menendez allusion to the possibility of Bella being a prostitute links her to the whore.
Both authors talk of aspects of popular culture throughout. Gaite and Montero have done this to underline the huge influence that this culture had on the development of not only their characters’ identity, but of the identity of all those of their eneration. However, while Montero also sees the popular culture as having damaged her characters as they try and ultimately fail to live up to its ideals or use it as a means of escapism rather than face reality, Gaite can see both the negative and the positive contributions.
Both recognise culture as something that crosses all political and class divides in its influence on society . The Bolero features in both, the title of Te Tratare com a una Reina is an ironic reference in itself a typical Bolero promise. Bella begins to believe in the promises of the Bolero. Rather than face the eality, she chooses to create a Bolero type image of Paco, which in turn is shattered. Montero’ subverts the convention of the Bolero. Paco beats Vanessa as he promises ‘Te tratare como a una reina’ highlighting the sharp contrast between the male of the the time in making men and women accept the regime and its’ ideology but also recognised that singers such as those of Conchita Piquer offered a protest against the traditional gender roles by singing about those marginalised by society . Also upon hearing a Bolero, it inspired her, rather than be the perfect patient female, to rite a love letter Films influence is also alluded to in both texts.
In el cuarto de atras, Gaite talks about US and Spanish films and actors. C recognises, while some of these supported state ideology, others offered an alternative model to gender identity formation For Antonia, they gave her false expectations of her first kiss and dreams of Hollywood offer Vanessa an escapism rather than face reality. C talks of how the female role models of the ‘novela rosa’ helped to back up the regimes perception of female gender identity in which women were practical, passive, optimistic and never complained.
Stories ended with marriage as the happy and normal conclusion . C also talks of talks of the Y magazine, through which the Seccion Feminina also helped form a female identity that was in tune with the regimes ideas. Montero damns the escapist element of culture, seeing it as having a wholly negative impact for the formation of realistic identities for both the male and female characters.
Gaite on the under hand, sees the escapist element of the popular culture as a way that offered women respite from the Franco ideology, stimulated creativity and offered alternative female roles, allowing them to shape different dentitys that those that the regime supported Both texts also incorporate aspects of popular culture as part of the metaphysical narrative. C shows Just how much this popular culture had on shaping her identity when she compares her situation with el hombre negro casting him as the hero of one of those books, Raimundo.
The structure of the novel in many ways resembles that of a novel rosa and C herself recognises that it is impossible for her to escape these conventions in her writing . C also recognises the influence that these works had on inspiring her to write. It ncorporates convention of other genres such as mystery, psychoanalytical and Bildungsroman, reinforcing the idea that popular culture had an impact on her as a writer and thus her identity. Montero incorporates the fictional article by Mancebo into the text.
She does this to highlight a number of issues in relation to gender identity. She shows that culture and the public voice is dominated by the male voice, that the language of the media reinforces gender roles and throughout the rest of the story she highlights Just how much influence popular culture such as the article ave identity formation. Both sexes illustrate a belief in these stereotypes throughout. Mary C Harges sees elements of the ‘novela negra’ in this book as Montero inhabits a more ‘ambiguous imaginary world beyond familiar horizons’ .
Throughout the bolero becomes more and more entangled with Bella’s thoughts as she moves further away from reality. The incorporation of different genres into the texts reinforces perception of culture’s influence, especially on the formation of self identity. In conclusion, both language and popular culture have an important role in oth novels in the influencing of identity and the reader’s perception of it. Montero once stated ‘Escribir es un Juego para m” and indeed the playful and experimental element of both novels is clearly seen in both novels by their metaphysical blurring norms.