(This is an analysis of the short story Magnificence by Estrella Alfon.

It is a stylistic analysis, specifically a feminist and gender oriented semantic analysis. It is based on my paper entitled "Taming Man in 'Magnificence': A Semantic and Gender Analysis" submitted in a Stylistics Class. Please cite properly or contact me for citation purposes.) The descriptions of the mother and Vicente are contrastive not only against each other but also against stereotypes of their genders. The story opens with Vicente being described as ³so gentle, so kind,´ a phrase usually used for women. Vicente is a dark ³little´ man whose ³voice [was] soft [and] manner slow.´ On the other hand, the mother is a ³gloating´ mother whose ³eyes [held] pride.´ She is barely described at the start, as absent as the father except for short delivered lines, which are also in a tone not in sync with stereotype mothers. Only later is the mother completely revealed: a ³tall woman´ who spoke in a voice ³very low, very heavy´ and with an ³awful timbre.´ The contrast emphasizes the darkness of Vicente and the mother¶s magnificence.
This contrast is also displayed in the metaphor of light or illumination. At the start, Vicente was described as slowly advancing into the circle of light. During the crucial moment, the mother is transfigured [by a] glow (note the connotation of Jesus/God, images of magnificence). She had been in the shadow literally, and figuratively, about Vicente s queerness that crouched inside him. In her anger, she advance[s] into the glare of light and reveals her magnificent self. Vicente is then forced out of the circle of light and into the shadows that ate him up.

The mother s sense of control with Vicente is set against her inner disposition once with her daughter. Her touch is heavy kneading , eyes with angered fire , her actions almost frantic.

The reversal of gender assignments is not only incidental. The story is not just about one magnificent woman but of all women and mothers who have been in shadows but raise [their] hand[s] against male abuse. This is shown in how throughout the story the mother is referred to as mother but at the moment she was punishing Vicente, she is called woman.

When she gets back to her daughter, she is seen as mother again, but in exploring her disposition and rage she is again woman. Finally, upon calming down, she becomes mother and tucks her child in.

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