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Journeys of Formation

The Spanish American "Bildungsroman</I>


Yolanda A. Doub

Ideal for students of modern Latin American literature, Journeys of Formation: The Spanish American ‘Bildungsroman’ offers a lucid introduction to the Bildungsroman as a genre before revealing how the journey motif works as both a plot-forming device and as a means of characterization in several of the most canonical Spanish American Bildungsromane. In the process, the author demonstrates the overlooked importance of the travel motif in this genre. Although present in the vast majority of Bildungsromane, if the journey is discussed at all by critics it tends to be in superficial terms. The author contends that no discussion of the Spanish American novel of formation would be complete without an exploration of travel. Yolanda A. Doub articulates the role of travel as a catalyst in the formation process of young male and female protagonists by examining in detail six representative novels from three different countries and time periods – from Argentina: Ricardo Güiraldes’s Don Segundo Sombra (1926) and Roberto Arlt’s El juguete rabioso (1926); from Peru: José María Arguedas’s Los ríos profundos (1958) and Julio Ramón Ribeyro’s Crónica de San Gabriel (1960); and from Mexico: Rosario Castellanos’s Balún Canán (1957) and Elena Poniatowska’s La «Flor de Lis» (1988).


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Chapter Five. Conclusions 89


• C H A P T E R F I V E • Conclusions ver the course of this study, we have attempted to articulate the role of travel as a catalyst in the Bildung of young pro- tagonists in Spanish American novels of formation. In the process, we have highlighted six different kinds of travelers: appren- tice (Don Segundo Sombra), bohemian (El juguete rabioso), nomad (Los ríos profundos), tourist (Crónica de San Gabriel), outcast (Balún Canán), and immigrant (La “Flor de Lis”). Traveling has given these heroes a richness in experiences and the knowledge to find their centers; their connection with society is ultimately through writing, and their journeys afford them “something to talk about,” as Aldous Huxley reminds us. But beyond that, their journeys reflect their unique trials within their respective societies, as well as their progress toward personal integration. By examining what our protagonists learn from mentors, friends, family members, and other acquaintances, their growth is revealed. These young people all struggle in their own way with their roots. They have lost their connection to their familial and/or societal traditions, and so these are not initiation stories, but rather tales of formation. Finding a viable bond with their families or, more fre- quently, their societies, thus becomes of primary importance to them along the way, and represents a significant portion of their endeavor. In the end, they each make an active choice in that regard. Accord- ingly, Fabio accedes to his fate as a patr...

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