Level 4: Area Studies
Introduction to Spanish and Latin America Culture (1SPA466)
Module leader: Sinaed Wall
La familia de Pascual Duarte
‘Pascual Duarte has been the subject of countless studies which oscillate between seeing him as a much maligned victim of forces beyond his control and an unscrupulous scoundrel for whom rehab was a waste of time’.
Discuss thisclaim using specific references from La familia de Pascual Duarte to support your argument.
This essay will be an attempt to analyse and discuss two of the many points of view from which we could look at Pascual Duarte as the protagonist of the Camilo Jose Cela’s literary work: La familia de Pascual Duarte. From the first perspective he could be considered a victim of destiny, as everythingthat happens in his life was already predestined. From the second point of view we can dare to say he was only a poor miserable man whose lack of principles made him go down a certain path in life. Throughout this essay I will also attempt to refer to some of my secondary resources, but I would like to expose broadly my point view, sticking mainly to the original book.
To start off, we need tohave a clear picture of the situation. As we should know, Pascual writes his confessions while in the jail of Chinchilla waiting for his execution for the murdering of Don Jesús González de la Riva, Count of Torremejía. He decided to write his memoirs and send it to Don Joaquin Barrera Lopez, one of the friends of Don Jesus as he seeks forgiveness and release from his pain. He asks humbly, that DonJoaquin could accept that pack of pages as if he was Don Jesús himself. It’s important to mention that Pascual Duarte believes that he never had a choice, his fate was cast: he was born for a purpose which could never be changed, as he affirms steadfastly on first page of his memoirs: “Hay hombres a quienes se les ordena marchar por el camino de las flores, y hombres a quienes se les manda tirarpor el camino de los cardos y de la chumberas.” (La familia de Pascual Duarte, p 25). As Patricia A. Santoro states: “The narrated events are governed by a single subjectivity, by a man who steadfastly leads the reader to believe that his violent behaviour was determined fatalistically, by a series of unfortunate familial situations. p 71” Bering in mind that his target reader is not us but DonJesús, who’s represented by Don Joaquin, Pascual doesn’t seem to purely regret his past attitudes, although he apologizes for many of his mistakes.
It’s also interesting to notice that what happened in his life after he committed matricide, does not seem to be relevant at all as he never told us what happened afterwards: “... hoy, que parece que ya estoy aburrido con los cientos de hojas que llenécon mi palabrería, suspendo definitivamente el seguir escribiendo para dejar a su imaginación la reconstrucción de lo que me quede de vida... [PD p19/20]”, his narration ends with his mother’s death, the last particle of his personal agony.
The following extract from the transcribers note is extremely relevant to start analysing Pascual Duarte from a different perspective: “El personaje, a mimodo de ver, y quizá por lo único que lo saco a la luz, es un modelo de conductas; un modelo no para imitarlo, sino para huirlo… - ¿Ves lo que hace? Pues hace lo contrario de lo que debería. [PD p 16]” As the Rincón Castellano affirms: “Su vida se encuentra llena de desgracias y mala suerte. Es un hombre rencoroso y impulsivo lo cual le llevará a asesinar sin escrúpulos y a acabar sus días en lacárcel.” Unfortunately the judgement of a man can’t be done by having consideration for what he has gone through in life, that is the other side of the coin, the point here is that Pascual, couldn’t control his own instincts and virility, maybe due to his lack of confidence or his brought up, but we know that he’s wasn’t ignorant at all: he wrote his memoirs and he’s wasn’t an young adult when...