Anti-Fascist Rites of Passage in Sender, Delibes, Laforet, Matute, and Martín Gaite
Chapter Five: Selfhood Subsumed: Perverted Passage in Matute’s Primera memoria
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Selfhood Subsumed: Perverted Passage in Matute’s Primera memoria
In Primera memoria, we focus on the passage of a fourteen-year-old girl, Matia, and her fifteen-year-old male cousin, Borja. The experiences of each echoes what we have observed previously in the lives of the young boys—Pepe Garcés and Daniel el Mochuelo—and an adolescent girl—Andrea. We see the familiar scenarios of community and family strife, gang violence, and irrational hatred, even persecution. Young people are again under pressure to choose a path that produces destructive hate and requires social conformity to the fascist worldview. As before, the result is a form of dehumanization, an intentional process of character molding, and a loss of individual identity and freedom. But Primera memoria is different from works previously examined in that we observe in Matia an identical pattern of resistance and rebellion, which leads to an only momentary glimpse of altruistic maturity, the courage to take a stand in support of a victim. In the end, the story seems to dramatize the failure of a naturally shy young girl who is silenced by the machinations of her manipulative cousin and her domineering grandmother. We see Matia’s deliberate attempt to reach out to Manuel Taronjí, a mistreated enemy of her family, and a moment of truth in which Matia speaks out against fascist injustice and stands with Manuel and his family. But this act ultimately leads only momentarily to a sense of true selfhood...
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