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To what extent is Réquiem por un campesino español an anti-religious text? Discuss with close reference to the novel.

To what extent is Réquiem por un campesino español an anti-religious text? Discuss with close reference to the novel.

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Sarah-Anne Smyth. Originally submitted for BA Italian and Spanish at University College Dublin, with lecturer Dr Jeremy Squires in the category of Languages & Linguistics
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Sarah-Anne Smyth. Originally submitted for BA Italian and Spanish at University College Dublin, with lecturer Dr Jeremy Squires in the category of Languages & Linguistics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
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12/03/2013

 
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Abstract on essay about
Réquiem por un campesino español 
This essay was submitted as part of a Stage 2 Spanish literature module entitled Anarchism andUtopia in the Spanish Rural Novel. The essay title was to discuss whether Ramó
n Sender’s novel
Réquiem por un campesino español 
should be viewed as an anti-religious text or not. The novel,which depicts a turbulent 1930s Spain, is often viewed as being anti-religious and anti-clerical, giventhat it is rich in religious symbolism and imagery but also portrays the central character of the parishpriest Mosén Millán in a rather negative light; however, this essay attempts to highlight the hopeand faith evident in both central characters, Paco and Mosén Millán, thereby rendering it a religioustext, or at least a novel with a Christian outlook, as opposed to an anti-religious text.As outlined in the essay, the Catholic Church in 1930s Spain is heavily criticised by Sender in thenovel but it is the institution of the Church itself and its political associations which are illustratednegatively. This essay aims to illustrate the torment which is present in Mosén Millán as he, too, is
weary with the situation. Many critics simply label Sender’s novel as anti
-religious and do not discussthe very human side
to the parish priest’s character.
The main aim of this essay was to illustrate how effectively Sender manages to allow the reader view
the situation from both the priest’s and the young boy’s perspectives. In doing so, Sender does not
blame anyone but allows the reader draw their own conclusion about whether or not the text isanti-religious. Through the examples discussed in the essay, the reader is invited to examinewhether or not Sender meant the priest to be seen as the person who was betrayed or as he whobetrays those close to him, or perhaps both.The character of Paco is often viewed as the epitome of anti-religion, given that he breaks awayfrom the Church. Through the points discussed in this essay, Paco is illustrated as a saviour or as asign
of hope in a terrible situation, further illustrating Sender’s approach that the novel is more
religious in its outlook than non-religious.The essay is developed along the following themes and points:Religious symbolism and imagery; central characters and their representations; the despair of Millánand the hope of Paco; the marginalisation of the Church from the people; the pivotal cave scene andhow Paco diverts onto a different path; betrayal; the ballad and memory; Sender as Christian-Anarchist.
 
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Anarchism and Utopia in the Spanish Rural NovelTo what extent is
Réquiem por un campesino español 
an anti-religious text?Discuss with close reference to the novel.
 _________________________________________________________________ The very human side to the central characters of Paco and Mosén Millán, in additionto the human dimension to the story itself, detract from any anti-religious propagandain the novel. On the one hand, if Sender had wanted to write an anti-religious text hemight not have traced t
he development of the plot surrounding Paco‟s character 
along the backbone of the seven sacraments. On the other hand,
Paco‟s character 
illustrates a strong criticism of how the Spanish Church betrayed its people by sidingwith the Falange regime. Noteworthy is how the plot is steeped in Christian and
religious symbolism and how Paco‟s
character is given qualities which resemble thatof a chosen one, a saviour or Messiah:
“Cuando el bautizo entraba en la iglesia,
las
campanitas menores tocaban alegremente”
1
  As a baby at his own christening celebration, Paco
parecía darse cuenta de que erael centro de aquella celebración, y sonreía
dormido”
.
2
 
1
 
Sender, J. Ramón,
Réquiem por un campesino español,
edited by Patricia McDermott,
Page 49
 
2
Op. Cit. Page 51
 
3
Right from the start of the novel, Paco is a representative figure offering hopeto the
pueblo 
.
He is portrayed as a boy who would become “un
nuevo Saulo para la
Cristiandad”.
3
 
This view of Paco‟s character as saviour may be viewed in an anti
-religious note: the purity of the newborn baby resonates with the Anarchist belief of original goodness as opposed to original sin; paradoxically it could also be viewed asbeing very religious in that Paco is the new saviour of humanity, resonating biblicalreferences of Christ saving his children on earth.B
oth Paco‟s Christ
-like qualities and his suffering which echoes the passion of Christ portray the inherent benevolence and, paradoxically, Christian-seemingvalues of the Anarchist
pueblo 
juxtaposed with the unchristian values of the Church.The ultimate betrayal of Paco by Millán evokes images of Christ being betrayed byJudah.
“Usted sabe
quién
soy”; “Por qu
é
me matan?”; “Que he hecho yo?”
4
 This episode alludes to the ultimate betrayal of the Spanish people by the Church in1930s Spain, due largely to its associations with the Regime. Therefore, the novel isnot anti-religious per se; it is, however, a criticism of the hierarchy of the Church andits strong affiliations with the Regime, which inevitably led to its betrayal of thepeople.The novel is set in Holy week, suggesting a time of death followed byresurrection and hope.
The opening words “el cura esperaba”
5
appropriately usesthe verb
espera 
r, which means both to wait and to hope. This scenario is verycleverly set up by Sender leading the reader to believe some hope or offering is
3
Op. Cit. Page54
4
Op. Cit. Page 95
5
Op. Cit. Page 47

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