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‘In Primera memoria the theme of adolescence assumes gigantic proportions.’

‘In Primera memoria the theme of adolescence assumes gigantic proportions.’

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Kate Laffan. Originally submitted for bcomm international with spanish at University College Dublin, with lecturer Jeremy Squires in the category of Languages & Linguistics
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Kate Laffan. Originally submitted for bcomm international with spanish at University College Dublin, with lecturer Jeremy Squires in the category of Languages & Linguistics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/26/2014

 
Five key words:
Adolescence, Spain, Confusion, Transformation, Reflection.
Abstract
In this paper I discuss the Spanish novella
 Primera memoria
by AnaMatute which was first published in Spanish in 1959. This book, though awork of fiction, reflects both the author’s own life and Spanish societyduring the civil war. My paper is an exploration of the theme of adolescence in the book; how it is represented and why there is such astrong emphasis on it.I begin by looking at how adolescence manifests itself in Matia, the book’s protagonist. I comment on the various characteristics and behaviorsthat are associated with adolescence and I use examples to highlight howthey are present in Matia. I also look at the character’s background and useit to try and explain some of the feeling’s expressed by Matia.I go on to briefly look at some of the references made by Matia tochildren’s literature such as
The Snow Queen
and
The Little Mermai
andthe parallels between Matia and her childhood heroes.I also examine the various symbols that are present throughout the book and their links to adolescence. In this text inanimate objects, and Matia’sattachment to them, take on deeper meanings that are linked toadolescence.
 
As the title of my paper would suggest adolescence is very central to thetext and it is represented not only by Matia but also her older cousin Borjaas well. In my opinion Borja’s character reinforces the idea of adolescenceas a vulnerable, confusing state. The conflict between Borja and Matiastresses the unstable and turbulent nature of teenage life.It is my belief that Matute used this scenario and these characters tosuggest something other than what is initially apparent. I think she usesthe island of Mallorca as a backdrop against which to explore the idea of the Spanish civil war as Spain’s own adolescence. As the book is based onan older Matia reflecting on her time as an adolescent I think that itsubliminally makes recommendations for Spain’s own need to reflect onthe civil war and a need for reconciliation.I admire Matute’s ability to capture in words the feelings of a young girlon the verge of adulthood and I really enjoyed writing this paper becauseit allowed me to recall my own teenage years. In terms of the structure of the essay I find that stand alone quotes in a language other than that of themain body of the text are less effective and so I tried, for the most part, toincorporate them into the sentences. I wholeheartedly agree with the essaytitle and so I was spoilt for choice in terms of symbols to discuss andquotes to use. My favorite part of writing the paper was when I began tosee the book as an allegory for the civil war and how that realizationtransformed my understanding of it.
 
‘In
 Primera memoria
the theme of adolescence assumes gigantic proportions.’
Adolescence most definitely assumes gigantic proportions in
 Primera memoria.
Matia,the book’s protagonist, appears to us as a young girl of fourteen and her passage fromchildhood to adolescence is a central theme in the book. Adolescence also manifests itself in other guises in this text; in the characters in Matia’s favorite fairytales, in her cousinBorja and even arguably in the turbulent state of Spain at the time.Adolescence is most obviously present in the book in the description of Matia’s feelingsand behavior. The book is narrated by a grown up Matia looking back on her life and theconfusing and transformative time that was her early adolescence. Throughout the book Matia experiences feelings of angst, self-preoccupation, confusion, and a fear of change,all of which are associated with adolescence.The text is rife with angst and inner turmoil as Matia faces challenges and experiencesnew feelings: “Qué dolor tan grande me llenaba. ¿Cómo es posible sentir tanto dolor a loscatorce os?”(129). She rejects all those she knows: “!Odio a todo el mundo deaquí!”(117). The volatility of Matia’s emotions is indicative of her adolescence. Shelikens herself Kay from the
Snow Queen
when she is sent to boarding school andexperiences an inexplicable feelings of “malévola y rebelde; como si se me hubiera

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