protagonist of Laforet's novel, Andrea, experiences a traumatic year going to university
in war-ravagedBarcelona while living with her relatives, and, as Janet Perez points out,
loses many adolescent illusions and matures socially and emotionally in the process'.
Again, like the typical Bildungsroman,Laforet’s novel depicts the protagonist within 'a
complex, modern society without generally accepted values' (see Bruford, quoted above)
These two histories - the personal and the national - are closelyknit throughout Nada, as
we shall see. The most visible aspect of the ‘complex, modern’ society in which Andrea
matures is its dire poverty; Nada faithfully describes the hunger which characterisedthe
so-called 'noche negra’ of the early Franco years, when Spain was without foreign
exchange aid or credit and when dried leaves and potato-peelings took the place of
tobacco and crushed acornswere used as a substitute for coffee. Andrea's own experience
of life in post-war Barcelona seems to confirm this bleak picture, although it is important
to bear in mind that history is reflected inNada not in the grand mythical terms common
in the novels of contemporary male writers, but through a personal lens. Andrea describes
herself as suffering from ‘un hambre que a fuerza de sercronica llegue casi a no sentirla’
(p. 144).-3 As she ominously points out later on- 'Hay quien se ha vuelto loco de hambre'
(p. 263), a theme evident in Rodoreda's contemporaneous La placa del Diamant.The
world depicted in Laforet's novel is mediated by repression and innuendo. Overt sexuality
was taboo during Franco's regime, and in keeping with this, a brooding, sexual repression
pervades Nada.Sexuality thereby becomes each character's unmentioned and
unmentionable life; it lies submerged in the text, unable to speak its secret, like that
obsession identified by Andrea as existing in...