Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Romantic or Not?

So here is a story for you. A man and a woman get married after a very long engagement. She can't get pregnant for a while, and the husband gets distraught because he needs to have a child to prove his masculinity. Finally, the wife gets pregnant and the husband rejoices.

Over the years, they have 8 more kids. The wife adores them all, but the husband doesn't even remember the birthdays of any of the kids (except the first one who proved his masculinity). Giving birth to all these kids and taking care of them changed the wife's body. She is not as thin as she used to be, and there are now a few wrinkles on her face. So the husband loses interest and starts walking around all miserable because his wife is not 20 anymore. Obviously, the husband didn't get any younger either over the years. None of that matters to the wife, however, who loves him as much as ever.

One day, the wife catches the husband kissing a picture and suspects that he is in love with another woman. It turns out, however, that he is kissing the portrait of her from 20 years ago, when she looked young and fresh. The wife is delighted, they kiss and make up.

This is the plot of a short story by Miguel de Unamuno. I have bored you with this because I'm trying to figure out what it says about my students that they unanimously categorized this as "the most romantic story ever" and loved it more than any other text we read in our course because of its "happy ending."

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Pagan Topologist said...

Curious. Is it happy because the characters had transcended what was separating them? Or??

Leah Jane said...

Wow, that's... Disturbing. Both the story and the reaction from your students.
I feel so bad for the poor wife character. And even worse for any children in that relationship who might learn what constitutes a "good" relationship from their parents' borderline dysfunctional behavior.

Clarissa said...

Hollywood rules, is all I can say.

I have read six final essays "analyzing" this short story so far, and the amount of inanity is staggering.

Tim said...

A happy ending ?

So she divorced him and found a new soulmate and he saw the errors of his way and is working on his problems ?

Hah :)

Clarissa said...

No, the happy ending is: she used contraception and had wild sex with many different guys all of whom adored her body. :-)

Z said...

Je ne l'ai pas lu, qu'est-ce que c'est? My students will love it. Their favorites ever are the Casa de Bernarda Alba and San Manuel Bueno, because these are the stories, in all of Hispanic literature and we have read from the jarchas and the Popol Vuh and Vision de los Vencidos forward, these two are the stories most relevant to their own lives, they say.

Clarissa said...

The short story is titled "Al correr los años", and I'm never putting it on the syllabus again because now the entire survey course has become about this one short story. Almost everybody chose to write their final essays about it. We read also from the jarchas until Carme Riera, but no, they choose this old thing to "analyze".

Izgad said...

"Giving birth to all this kids"