Angel Guerra by Benito Pérez Galdós: Part One
A Translation of Angel Guerra
By Benito Pérez Galdós
Translated by Karen O. Austin
With Introduction by Michael Gordon and Karen O. Austin
The Edwin Mellen Press: Lewiston, New York, 1990 (748 pages, hardback)
Volume 10 of their Hispanic Literature series
Thanks to the Santa Clara County Library District for having an inexpensive interlibrary loan system. There was no way I could afford $190 for this book, not to mention not wanting to support the press’ wonderful public relations campaign through lawsuits. I am grateful they have several Galdós volumes available that I will be posting on over the next few months.
I think any reader of Galdós will benefit by brushing up on Spanish history. The author oftentimes intertwines plot and historical events. Here are a few notes and links from my series of posts on Fortunata and Jacinta.
The Pérez Galdós Editions Project is a great starting point on digging deeper into Galdós’ works. The The Fourth Annual Pérez Galdós Lecture, Gifts in the Work of Galdós by Rodolfo Cardona, provides a good overview of how gifts work in the author’s novels and has a section (Section IV) focusing on Angel Guerra.
- Dulcenombre: Angel’s mistress. Note the play on the name—Dolce Nombre de Maria being one of the Virgin Mary’s appellations. The shortened form, Dulce, evokes Dulcinea from Don Quixote. (Additional irony will come later on when Leré comes into Angel’s life and represents to him the Virgin.
- Angel Guerra: the names represent the conflict within from the beginning (angel vs. war). A widower with a daughter. Angelín.
- Encarnación (Ción): Angel’s 7-year old daughter (age at the beginning of the novel).
- Doña Sales: Angel’s mother
- Lucas: a servant of Mrs. Guerra’s
- Leré (Lorenza): Ción’s governess. Not older than 20 at start of story.
- The Babels:
Don Simón Garcia Babel: supreme head of the house of Babel
Doña Catalina de Alencastre: wife
Aristides: first-born son; 36 at the start of the novel
Fausto: second son, youngest child
Cesárea: eldest daughter
Dulcenombre: daughter, born between Cesáera and Fausto
Don Pito: Simón’s younger brother. Full name: Luis Agapito
Matías: Don Pito’s son (nicknamed Naturaleza)
Policarpio (Poli): Don Pito’s son
Don Pedro: Catalina’s cousin, a priest at Vargas
- Don José Bailón: neighbor of the Babels; a “renegade curate” and moneylender
- Alejandro Miquis: doctor (see note below on his recurring appearance in Galdós novels)
- Canon León Pintado (a pun on an old Spanish saying (I don’t think the lion’s as fierce as they’ve made him out to be [painted him]).
- Braulio: Guerra estate administrator. About 45 years old at start of story.
- Basilisa: Doña Sales’ long-time maid
- Don José Suárez de Monegro: Doña Seles’ cousin (in Toledo). (Don Suero—Don Whey-Face).
- The Marquis of Taramundi: occupant of the second floor where the Guerra’s lived. The brother of Manso!
- Don Cristóbal Medina: intimate friend of the Guerra family. The husband of María Juana, “one of the three married women who gave our friend Bueno de Guzmán such a bad time.” (from the 1885 novel Lo Prohibido (Forbidden Fruit).
- Mr. Carnicero: one of the two consulting doctors for Doña Sales
- Moreno Rubeo: the second consulting doctor
- Pepita (Pepa) Pez: Angel’s (deceased) wife
- Don Manuel Pez: Pepa’s father
- Mrs. Medina: friend of the Guerra family
- Faustina: the cook in the Guerra household
- Juan: Leré’s brother, the only one of the older four brothers still living
- Aunt Justina: Leré’s aunt in Toledo, married to Uncle Roque
- Uncle Roque: Leré’s uncle in Toldeo, married to Aunt Justina
- Sabas: Leré’s younger brother
- Don José Suárez de Monegro: a friend of Leré’s family in Toledo.
- Don Francisco Mancebo: Leré’s mother’s uncle, a clergyman. He lives with Leré’s Aunt Justina and Uncle Roque.
- Escolástico: Leré’s stepfather.
- Lorenza: a neighbor of Leré’s family after her mother remarries.
- The Rojas ladies: aunts of Braulio (Cayetana and Pía)
- Don Francisco Bringas: one of the executors of Doña Sales’ estate
- Marquis of Casa Muñoz: one of the executors of Doña Sales’ estate
- Vicenta: (gossip about Leré and Angel)
- Pascual: Vicenta’s brother
- Candelaria: Pascual’s girlfriend
- Argüelles: supposed friend of Simón Babel; works in the Ministry
- Torres: supposed friend of Simón Babel; works in private industry
- Don Diego: Toledan that Doña Catalina Babel says occupies some of her houses
- Trastamara Enrique: Doña Catalina’s uncle
- Don Duarte: an ancestor of Doña Catalina; set up entailments that supposedly benefit her
- Doña Leonor de Guzmán: deceased aunt of Doña Catalina
- Doña Inés de Aragón y Meneses: deceased ancestor of Doña Catalina
Starts on September 19th, 1886, and “follows closely the real-life republican uprising led by General Villacampa in September, 1886.” (x) The date chosen was the same as the beginning of the Glorious Revolution of 1868.
Angel shows up at Dulce’s house in the early morning, wounded from a bullet wound. (Buzzing of a trapped bee in the house similar to Angel’s ranting.)
Angel curses the timidity of his co-conspirators. He curses the poor neighbors and Dulce’s family and her situation. “This dump”. Believes her family would sell him out in a minute.
(7) Angel had told his mother he was going hunting four days before the attempted coup.
(10-11) (Dulce) “Oh, my love, the things they were saying in the square this morning! That you’re all a bunch of fools, and that you don’t have the slightest idea how to run a revolution.”
(Angel) “They’re right We deserve whatever insults the marketplace chooses to throw at us, some of us for having been naïve innocents, others for having turned traitor.”
(Sergeants’ revolt of 1867, a political revolt Galdós participated in (?). Part of the Glorious Revolution of 1868, “the attempt to establish a constitutional monarchy in Spain under an imported king, Amadeo de Savoy”… page x of Introduction… later would be “the anarchy and chaos of the First Republic which came in the wake of that attempt, and, finally the Bourbon Restoration under Alfonso XII in 1874.”)
Dulce tells Angel what the “common” people are saying, especially that of the local endive seller who fashions himself a former rebel and expert. Angel marvels at the common sense he hears Dulce repeating. Angel muses “I feel as though I’m waking up from some conceited gullible, stupid dream, and I realize what a different person in that dream from what I am now… Anyway, we learn from our mistakes. I was caught up in a dangerous period by a kind of political vertigo, a fanatical sickness, an instinctive yearning to better the lot of the people, to lessen the ills of humanity—a quixotic vice we all carry in our very blood. The end is noble enough, but I can see now that the means are ignominious, and as to the instrument—which is to say the people themselves—it breaks in our hands like a rotten stick” (12; ellipsis in original)
“I’ve run slam into the brick wall of reality. I open my eyes to find myself knocked all to pieces—but at least the pieces are beginning to see clearly.” (12)
[Note how this parallels Don Quixote’s deathbed scene and Angel’s own deathbed declaration.]
The café you frequented could indicate your political leaning. Footnote on page 13: “Cafés came into existence in nineteenth-century Spain at the same times as political freedom, and for some little time they were almost inextricably linked, patronage of a particular café being almost enough in and of itself to mark a man as a revolutionary. It is a café which gives its name to Galdós’ early novel recounting a revolution—La Fontana de Oro (1870).”
The café where Angel like to go: Nápoles Café.
(13) “Every aspect of this failure,” he mused, “is humiliating, right down to my wound. Death or a serious wound would have been appropriate to the occasion; but this hole in my arm won’t allow me to consider myself a victim, or a hero or anything.”
Angel is needy, grasping in this situation, asking for assurances of Dulce’s love.
(14) Dulce’s confession that she is happy she left her family: “I don’t much like freedom,” Dulce hastened to inform him. “I feel better when I submit, when my neck’s firmly harnessed to the yoke of a man who pleases me body and soul. To obey out of love is my delight, and to serve my master, while at the same time I’m a little bit his mistress as well, both his slave and his lady…” [ellipsis in original]
Angel thinks of his good fortune that he has Dulce and her fidelity and solace. The question is, to this point, does he deserve her? He acknowledges he’s lucky to have her, but all the positive qualities he ascribes to her he seems to lack.
Dulce’s appearance—pretty but sadly (at least to the author) too thin. “[S]he had a body like a reed.” A noble look, but thin and with a “poor coloring.”
Dulce is 24 at the start of the novel, but looks 30. She says she has no real family to leave (in living in the arrangement Angel provided).
The Propagandist Reclamation Circle—Angel’s group.
Thinly fictionalized recounting of the sergeants’ revolt. Angel mad at the loss of nerve by many of the plotters. Understands that the top officers will only join in if success is assured.
Angel recounting the events to Dulce (22): Dulce looked at him in alarm, for at that point the narrator showed signs of becoming badly overwrought. He thrashed his feet about in the sheets, as though trying to walk his way through them. He was becoming intoxicated, intoxicated with the dramatic fumes given off by the deeds he recounted; and as though someone were insisting to his face that the plan had been a model of strategic skill, he became more and more heated, maintaining and reiterating his harsh judgment.”
(23): Humanity is still unsure as to what comes first and what second, which forces generate and which conceive. An immense puzzle: Is bread kneaded for revolutions, or by them?
This is after a comparison between Angel’s interest in explaining what happened (a belief in the “supremacy of History,” discussing a “failure in the masses’ instinctive and fatal effort to improve their lot through change” and Dulce’s belief in “the importance of domestic trifles” (such as cleaning clothes or frying an omelet). The narrator’s decision—both are important.
(24) Angel refers to what they did to a colonel as an “atrocity.” Not sure if he’s the one who shot him or not.
Then goes on to say “you can’t pass judgment on them without taking the whole situation into account.” A reference to Goya. (Second of May, 1808)
Angel gets worked up telling what happened. Feels he has to tell what happened in order to counter what was being printed (and, he assumed, said) about it. Works himself into a fever. Imagines he sees the colonel’s corpse in the room.
Footnote on 28: The mania for counting endless meaningless numbers is a frequent motif in Galdós’ works, the best known exponent being Isidora’s father, incarcerated in the Leganés insane asylum in La desherdada (1881). In Angel Guerra, a less extreme form can be seen in the characters of Doña Sales and Mandebo.
Along that point—Angel: “But the perverse things [ideas] won’t leave, you’ll see. You’d have to throw them out, and you know how you do that? By filling your head up with endless numbers. Ideas are the enemies of numbers, as soon as they see them they run away.” (28)
(28) [S]he (Dulce) imagined him condemned to death, executed by a firing squad with his back to the Retiro walls like the sergeants of ’66, a slaughter of which she had been told by Angel himself.
Ouch (29): Guerra was one of those ugly men who show, through some mysterious ethnographic stamp, that they are the offspring of beautiful parents. The mixture of two beauties of differing types was clearly visible in his features. The ensemble of nose, eyes and mouth lacked beauty, no doubt because the nose belonged to one face and the eyes to another. The unison was not an altogether happy one, and some parts were too sunken, others too prominent. He did not make a good first impression, what with the sharp angles of his frowning, harsh face.
Back to the question of page 23, and what drives what. Page (30): That day, the strong feeling of disillusion in his soul caused him, by the law of spiritual compensation, to stimulate and abet sentiment an unconscious method of consoling himself for the blows to his self-esteem. As always occurs, the soul, a defeated combatant in its foray into public life, sought satisfaction for its defeat in the tenderness and joys of private life.
Angel and Dulce trade endearments about how lucky they are to have each other. Guerra has lived with her for a year at the opening chapter.
(31) He was her family, her entire world—an extraordinary phenomenon, since they were not united by the bonds of matrimony. [Is this a snide comment from Galdós?]
Dulce originally had hopes of marriage at the outset of their “unlawful co-habitation” but she forgot about that soon. They were very happy with each other. Angel enjoyed his forced seclusion with her.
(31) Disillusionment with things political had cut a deep furrow in his soul, which he felt had been cleansed of its treacherous illusions. He was in the habit of catching Dulce about the waist, drawing her down beside him, and kissing her again and again, all the while telling her: “So long as I have you, the devil can take the country for all I care. In all good truth, it’s foolish to worry about that dim, vague thing we call the country, which doesn’t care about those who sacrifice themselves for it.
Angel cares less and less about his cohorts, although he follows Brigadier Campón’s trial.
Angel dreads going back to visit his mother but realizes he needs to. (33) Dule undertook this commission” to see his mother and his daughter. She talks to Lucas to find out that the mother is still in bed. She sees the daughter with the governess.
The mother is very strong. When Angel ran short of cash he had to return home. “Poverty forced him from his cave, as hunger does the wolf, sending him out in search of meat.” (35)
Angel reads that Campón’s trial: sentenced to death, but then pardoned. Angel’s “fanaticism cooled—through the fever-reducing action of joy in revolutionary medicine—to zero.” (35)
(35) But here the narrator must pause to state that the Babels (for such was the name of that clan) are totally fictitious—which in no way precludes their being quite real The reader is therefore free to believe or disbelieve what he is told, and although it may be criticized as a fiction or a fraud, here is the portrait, with all the falsehood of its truth, and with neither addition to nor subtraction from its incredible and incontrovertible nature.
II. The Babels
The Babel residence is at 32A Molino de Viento. The footnote on page 36: Molino de viento—windmill—is one of the many allusions in the novel to Cervantes’ Don Quixote; at the same time, of course, it serves as a commentary on the collective mental state of the entire Babel clan.
The father Don Simón Garcia Babel: “So expansive and adhesive when in society that at times one was forced to flee him like the plague.” (36) “[T]he most presumptuous wretch the world has ever seen.” (37)
His wife Doña Catalina de Alencastre: a direct descendent of a brother of Queen Catalina, wife of Enrique III of Castile (late 14th/early 15th century). The true surname was Alonso Castro. After age 45, “Doña Catalina began to show a lamentable tendency to become unbalanced on any occasion of serious unpleasantness or argument, which accounted for almost every day of the year.” (37)
Eldest son Arístides: “grown old before his time.” “That this man’s life had always been somewhat mysterious, full of adventures and frustrated ambitions, was apparent in his face, stamped with the seal of melancholia and weariness, like someone whose energies have all been consumed in fruitless battles.” (39) “Arístides García Babelli: Baron of Lancaster” used on a business card when he worked in Costa Rica. “He fluctuated between extreme wealth and extreme poverty.” (39) Regarding the business card, Galdós makes the strange claim that “One such card has been preserved, and if anyone should choose to doubt my word on this issue I will happily rub his nose in the pasteboard thereof.” (39) This after he stated the family was completely fictitious (although that didn’t mean they weren’t real).
Second son Fausto: his youth also shrouded in some mystery, although everyone knew why he had been fired from the Post Office for misfeasance. No one knew how his foot became deformed, “nor was he able to give any reasonable explanation when asked about it.” (40) His principal talent was calligraphy, which also caused him trouble—he spent three years in jail for counterfeiting, although the charge was never proven. Disgusted with writing, he tried his hand at other things (chemistry, chances of winning the lottery).
Cesárea: the eldest daughter. She ran off at age 20 and married a coachman, “founding a decent family. Faithful wife and mother of heaven knows how many children, she had as little to do with her parents as possible. She is of little importance in this tale.” (41)
Dulcenombre. Catalina dreamed that an angel told her is call the child Dulce Nombre de María. The mother turned “the four words into one.” (41) She had some schooling, but it was “incomplete and fragmented.” (42)
The constant change in fortune for the Babel family: “The family sailed the sea of life in the midst of a violent hurricane, constantly having to throw part of the contents of the ship overboard to keep the whole from sinking.” (42) At times Dulce suffered “Ugolino-like hunger.” (Note on page 42: Ugolino della Gheradesca was a thirteenth-century Pisan leader, imprisoned with two sons and two nephews and left to starve in the tower of Gualandi, later renamed the Tower of Hunger.” The same as mentioned in Dante?)
The family was hard up with nothing left to pawn except the clothes they wore (and they were considering pawning those). “Morality was forced to give way in the face of physical needs. The egregious Doña Catalina cried a great deal, it must in all fairness be admitted, on the day when there was no way out but to accept certain propositions made to her concerning Dulce. And though half her heart ached for what Dulce was losing, with the other half she savored freedom from anguish, paying the baker in hard cash for three months of extended credit, the butcher for four, and rescuing some captive clothing.” (43)
Dulce left the house on some evening to go to work (prostitute), sometimes downcast, other times content. García Babel and his son Arístides were active in the rebellion planning since they couldn’t “carve out a niche for themselves in any other” party (43). Angel Guerra met Dulce one evening in the Babel house where he went to discuss some of the conspiracy plans. They “liked each other on sight.” “Love, as only rarely happens, was born out of the seeds of vice, and after having known her for only two days Angel asked Dulce to go away with him, abandoning a way of life which did not suit her moral temperament.” (43)
Her disappearance from the Babel house caused the family to frantically search for her (their meal ticket). Angel extended assistance to the family. This arrangement lasted for a year, until “that absurd revolutionary attempt.” (44)
Second Branch of the Babel family:
Don Pito: Simón’s younger brother. Full name: Luis Agapito. Became a ship’s master “on innumerable expeditions to the Americas, to Africa, and to the scattered isles of the Pacific.” In his own telling about his experiences: “And he was so hyperbolic as his own chronicler that the world, in his telling, grew larger than it actually is, with a few extra continents thrown in for good measure.” (44) For a while he engaged in the slave trade but was caught by the English, who imprisoned him on Saint Helena for a while. He was caught again and imprisoned for 10 months. By the time the story begins he is broke, “old, rheumatic, dragging his right leg along behind him, cursing his luck… .” (45) He had plenty of skill as a sailor, in everything else he had hardships. When he returned to Spain he had two sons, but no one was sure what had happened to his wife. Some claim she trafficked in white slaves: “One imported ebony, the other ivory.” (45)
Don Pito’s sons: Matías and Policarpio (Poli).
Matías was nicknamed Naturaleza (carries a meaning of both “nature” and “brute instincts”) by his cousins in Madrid. A master confectioner, although his slow nature got him continually thrown out of jobs.
“The truth of the matter is that Don Pito’s unknown wife had carried them both beneath her heart, but that he, Pito, accepted the blame for Policarpio alone, Naturaleza having been conceived by the Holy Spirit while the valiant Argo was trading with chieftains along the coast of Africa.” (47; foot note: “Interestingly, this is in direct contradiction to Don Pito’s vehement declarations at the end of the novel. It may be an actual slip on Galdós’ part, but is more likely to be deliberate.”)
Poli became an expert locksmith. Brought money home, although no one knew how it had been obtained. Frequented “gaming-houses of ill repute.” (47) Passed some of his knowledge (chemistry, picking locks, experiments?) to his cousin Fausto.
When the “second branch” of the Babel family left Cadiz for Madrid, the “first branch” welcomed them into their house because they believed them to be bringing money with them. It turns out they weren’t, but the “first branch” accepted them anyway. Want and plenty were shared equally between the branches.
Dulce visits her family’s house. Arístides tells her that the law is looking for Angel and already caught Mediavilla. Dulce lies to him and says they have moved to a tile-works. (Angel had mentioned he didn’t trust her family not to turn him in for a reward.)
Dulce doesn’t really like Don José Bailón. He’s considered rich, at least in their neighborhood, and turns out to be a loan shark, too. She considers him a ‘songer’ who consues “no small portion” of their modest meals.
Don Simón believes the Gazette will show what needs to be done after the revolution succeeds. Claims to write to a Don Maneul—the editor?—and to have received a return answer. Plenty of political talk at the Babel table—a “grotesque humor.” (58)
After dinner everyone congregates in Don Pito’s room for a drink. Dulce leaves the house full of remorse for her family.
“Dulce left the lion’s den with a heavy heart, weeping quietly within and foreseeing misfortunes, calamities, and tragedies.” (61)
III. The Return of the Prodigal Son
While Dulce and Angel laugh at the farcical nature of her family, Angel is concerned that one of the family might inform on him for a reward. Arístides concerns him the most since he has had success in the past and he’s afraid he misses it. Not to mention the type of people he associates with.
Dulce was great at managing finances, making the money stretch, but even so Angel was running out of money. In late October he was out of money and had to go visit his mother for funds. He trembles at the thought. “He had a sudden, harrowing vision of the good woman’s inflexible character and authoritarian ways.” (63) He views her as a tyrant. He has to work his way up to visiting her, first just walking in the area of the house. (Great descriptions of their neighborhood of Madrid.)
The servant Lucas tells Angel that his mother isn’t doing well and there will be a doctors’ conference the next day, organized by Don Alejandro Miquis. Plus Canon Pintado was coming from Toledo to administer last rites.
Page 65 footnote: Alejandro Miquis is one of Galdós’ repeating characters, appearing in a number of novels. Miquis was very much based on the real figure of Manuel Tolosa Latour, a brilliant doctor who specialized in children. He and Galdós were friends, and his relationship to the character of Miquis was clear to both, as evidenced by the fact that Galdós would frequently address him as Miquis in their correspondence, and Tolosa Latour would sign himself as such in return.
Angel is tormented by hearing of his mother’s illness. Lucas tells him that his daughter is fine, having recovered from a cold.
Angel asks Lucas who is at the house now. Lucas’ reply (66-7):
“When I went out there was no one there by Don Braulio, he’s been sleeping here nights since Madame started getting worse. The Santa Cruz and Medina ladies were around earlier, and the Marchioness of Taramundi. And Canon León is staying in the house while he’s here; but at night, after he’s eaten, he usually goes on over to visit Mr. and Mrs. Bringas.”
Footnote on page 66:
Again, there are repeating characters in the Galdosian opus. The Santa Cruz ladies are Jacinta, one of the two central characters in Fortunata and Jacinta (1886-87), the novel referred to slightly along, and her mother-in-law.
Footnote on page 67:
This couple [Bringas] figures in several novels, most prominently in The Bringas Woman (1884).
Angel can’t decide whether to go in or not. He finally does and Braulio, the family estate administrator, ushers him upstairs and updates him on Doña Sales’ condition. It’s decided to wait until morning to see his mother. His daughter is in the room next to her, so he has to wait to see her, too. Leré gives him more information and hatches a plan to introduce him to Doña Sales so as not to upset her. Angel feels guilty about being away and having to concoct a way for him to see his mother.
Leré was wonderful as governess to Ción. She did so well Doña Sales took her into her confidence and gave her important duties. At the time Angel returns home she is acting as nurse, too. “Anyone given to defining types of beauty would find himself hard put to classify Leré as being either ugly or pretty, for her face was completely enigmatic, either totally inscrutable or totally expressive, according to where one chose to begin.” (71) A badly-shaped nose, an irregular mouth with uneven teeth: “the result as a rather doubtful whole, the sort that must be submitted to the wholly personal aesthetics and caprices of men.” (71) Gold-flecked eyes, close to green, had a nervous tic where they jerked in movement left to right. She also incessantly blinked her eyelids. Both together provided “a crisscross of brilliance and shadow that you couldn’t look at her closely during a conversation without being affected by it.” (72)
Angel: “If you’re trying to tell me that the sorrows I’ve caused her have done more to destroy her than her health has to defend her, I don’t think I can bear it, and if something terrible happens… No, don’t tell me Mama’s dying. Just don’t tell me that, have a little pity on me. My iniquity isn’t really iniquity as such, it’s more fanaticism, a sickness of the soul that blinds the understanding and destroys the will. My mother and I think—and have always thought—very differently. It’s not my fault.” (72-3; ellipsis in original) We’re seeing a common refrain from Agnel: it’s not my fault.
Braulio tells Angel that someone had told Doña Sales he had participated in the killing of the colonel during the uprising (also called the Count of …). Angel tries to talk his way out of it, sounding guilty when doing so. Braulio changes the subject, telling Angel that his mother is upset that his insistence on “living with that Babel gal, who’s…well, we all know what she is” (74; ellipsis in original).
Anger and self-pity war within Angel’s soul. He blames the bourgeoisie for shaping such a meddling society. He doesn’t blame his mother for this affront, “I blame the class tyranny she hasn’t been able to escape.” (75)
Guerra’s argument has “extremist, schismatic, anarchistic ideas.” (75)
Angel’s father’s name: Don Pedro José Guerra.
Angel wanders around the house, allowing flashbacks of his life. Footnote on Page 78:
The portrait of Doña Sales is almost ertainly based on his mother, referred to by all the family as Mama Dolores. She was a loving but very domineering mother—so much so that the author is almost always known by Galdós (Dolores’ maiden name) rather than Pérez (his father’s name) or Pérez Galdós, as would be correct. Benito was the youngest of ten children, and only managed to give her the slip when she sent him off to study at the University in Madrid in order to separate him from what she considered to be a budding undesirable connection with one Sisita, the illegitimate daughter of an uncle. Once away, he steered fairly clear of the Canaries—and of her. He was close to his family and certainly loved her, but he seems to have felt it wiser to love her from a good safe distance. There is an earlier and far more horrifying depiction of her in the protagonist of Doña Perfecta (1876). The portrait in Angel Guerra is gentler, more disposed to give her credit for her strengths as well as her flaws.
Angel imagines the tongue-lashing his mother will give him.
Page 79 has a footnote on the disentailment (the move in 1836 to confiscate Church property, selling them off cheaply to those with political clout, who of course resold them for a killing).
Doña Sales descended from “the well-known Toledan family of the Monegros, the depository, according to her, of all that was honorable and respectable in the human race.” (79) She took pride that her family and the Guerras had made their money honestly.
Angel knew he better respond to his mother’s tirade with silence, knowing her angry eloquence would turn to sarcasm. Her approach then would be self-deprecation to Angel’s book knowledge (especially those “big books in French”) and his desire to reform everything by destroying it.
(83) Angel imagines his response to his mother, essentially saying he will stay quiet. The third stage of his mother’s “sermon” would be “one of blind screaming fury admitting of no reply, a fury made worse by its imposing mimicry.”
She describes “the stupidities of your school, without God, without law, without honor.” Angel imagines all of these speeches “based on what he’d heard from her lips countless times in the according to her usual custom.” (84)
Angel’s dream, one he had often when he was stressed: walking around the top floor of a house under construction. Looking down at the rooms made them look like a cage, some rooms wrapped around with ropes. He imagined his fall from the top of the house, looking at the floors as he passed, until he landed on his feet, jamming his legs up into his body. (84)
(85) Angel’s other dream that haunted him was “a real episode in his childhood which had left a profound impression on his mind, like scars on the skin that preserve throughout one’s life the earlier lacerations to the flesh.” This was “the execution of the sergeants of the unsuccessful June twenty-second  uprising.” Angel was 12 or 13 years old at the time.
He immediately regretted having seen the execution. It affected him profoundly. He shared his viewing vantage point with a possible madman with quill-like hair.
Leré wakes up Angel (who has had both bad dreams). He’s upset and mad that she won’t let him see his daughter yet. Leré is thinking of Doña Sales, Angel is thinking only of himself.
Don León Pintado, the canon from Toledo. Don León had been at one time a chaplain to the Micaelas in Madrid. Quote from page 91:
He was (as those who know the story of Fortunata may recall) stout and elegant, gairly well along in years, affable and conciliatory, a bit vain in his dress, of absolute intellectual and moral insignificance, a smoother-over of troubled waters, a man who liked to be on good terms with everyone, especially with those in high places.
(91) on Don León:
He advanced nicely, thanks to “the influence of Doña Sales and some of her friends and relatives.”
“He was better at cards than at theology, his admirable aptitude for card games—as well as for chess—having been developed in the sleepy, idle life of the imperial city of Toledo.”
“But that’s the way it goes: just as bravery is of little use to a combatant who is unarmed, so it was of no use whatsoever to Pintado to have reason on his side, since he lacked the ability to use it.”
The doctor, Augusto Miquis, arrives. Recommends Angel “mend his ways” with his mother in order to help her heal. Angel feels he is being tortured (not allowed to see his daughter or his mother) as well as having to sacrifice ideas, beliefs, and feelings. (So put upon, poor soul!)
(92) “Braulio was preparing to answer, to attack with the arms of common sense—which he did not wield as well as he thought he did”.
(93) Angel finally gets to see Ción. “Her intellectual development was disproportionately greater than that of her body. She was six years old, but seemed ten in intellect, four in her dress size.”
Angel gives in to everything Ción wants.
Doña Sales intuits that Ción’s rebelliousness (in not coming to her when called) meant Angel was in the house. She chastises Pintado, Braulio, and Leré for the games played in order to prepare her to see him, but says that’s OK. “Have the young idiot come in. I’m dying to see him and give him a hug.” (97)
Misquis comes in instead, planning to go ahead with the multi-doctor consultation.
Misquis says he’s here to get Doña Sales better so they can get better. “Misquis had the best bedside manner in all of Madrid.” (98)
Mr. Martínez de Castro: Misquis’ mentor. Misquis was his “disciple and favorite assistant of that eminent scientist” that tended to Doña Sales (before he died). (98)
(98) She was, as I have said, seated in her chair, backbone straight as a ramrod, every inch the lady, quite convinced that illness does not excuse one from the necessity for decorum, and that we ought to suffer and die with a comportment befitting the class to which we belong.
While her body had aged well (and she used “the discipline of the corset” to maintain appearances), her face had suffered. “[T]ime had taken its revenge for its inability to destroy her figure.” (99) Her gracious speech won her friends on second impressions that had been lost on the first.
Footnote (99): A cigarralero is the owner or inhabitant of a cigarral, a Toledan country house with orchards. … The cigarral thus connects with Muslim Spanish history, Christian hagiology, Golden Age drama, and even to some extent with the courtly love aspect of Angel’s enamorment.
Misquis warns Angel that his mother is very sick and her emotional state has a bearing on her physical state. He counsels Angel to make his mother think he has given up his “crazy ways,” even if he hasn’t. “Give her that much comfort, you brute.
The Marquis of Taramundi and Don Cristóbal Medina: they hold Angel “in the utmost contempt” while he professes “a cordial antipathy towards them.” (101) Angel like to pull their leg, which exasperates Doña Sales, “who was irked by her son’s making fun of persons whom she considered to be so respectable and in such conformity with her social canon.” (101)
Manso’s brother, the Marquis of Taramundi:” “His thoughts, being few, were easily enumerated; his language was impoverished and his vocabulary deck was short a few cards; his tone was as resonant and resounding as a hollow drum’s.” (101)
The doctor’s consult, disagree. They all agree that her emotional health would determine her outcome. Miquis gives it straight to Angel—their “lamentable disagreements” … “have contributed not a little to the breakdown”. (104) He says both Doña Sales and Angel are responsible but says Angel needs to “wipe out all your differences of value-systems and behavior” (105) . They are too much alike but she is sick and Angel isn’t. Miquis says Angel needs to only appear to agree. Angel agrees. Everyone is in on the “charitable hypocrisy” and charades, including Doña Sales.
Angel says he will spend the night with his mother. All Doña Sales and Angel can muster is small talk, but inside she rails at her son. She doesn’t believe in his repentance. The thought of her dying and Angel getting everything, without her to slow him down, causes her to keep herself under control.
She continues an “internal tirade,” ashamed of his behavior and angry at the respect he hasn’t shown “the honorable name of his parents.” (109) Doña Sales believes the poor is an “ignorant, vindictive, filthy mob” and that “we’re all at the mercy of the villains.” She’s most ashamed by his participation in the murder of officers. (110)
Meanwhile Angel is stewing over the “stupid social comedy” that won’t allow him to bring Dulce into the house. He thinks up rejoinders to accusations his mother has not made. He goes through how he married Pepa Pez at his mother’s insistence and his submission. “I paid with my happiness for my role as the submissive son.” (113) They were totally incompatible for each other. “It was her vanity, her frivolity that tormented me even more than the barrenness of her soul.” (113) Pepa died from Pneumonia. Her father felt Angel had caused her death of a broken house.
Angel blames Don Manuel Pez “and the people like him, those zeros, those Pharisees and scribes of the idiot dogma of the proprieties, who’ve been the determining factors in my rebellious behavior and my fondness for anarchy.” Angel attacks Don Manual Pez after his accusations. (113)
“When I was left a widower I felt as though I’d been freed from some terrible imprisonment, and I said: ‘I will no longer obey…’” (113; ellipsis in original) Dulce is the opposite of his wife and makes him happy.
Angel (internally) argues that the blame for his mother’s heart problems is *hers*: “Try blaming that overbearing, despotic character of yours, that character that won’t allow for the slightest disobedience, for the slightest objection, not even for an opinion other than your own.” (114)
Neither Angel or Doña Sales can sleep. Doña Sales says she is glad Angel is repenting, although he thinks she “is speaking ironically. You don’t believe I’ve repented, not for one minute.” For her part, Doña Sales knows Angel is lying when he agrees with her. (116)
Her biggest worry is that Angel is that he will continue with Dulce (“that immoral woman”), especially after he death. “One thing terrifies me, and that’s the idea that after I’m dead that woman might walk into this house and…” (116: ellipsis in original)
Angel, fed up with Doña Sales’ scorn and sarcastic replies, shoves her hand, which he had been holding in his, away from him. She has an attack (shortness of breath). Her attack gets worse and she appears to have died.
Lerè and Braulio (administrator) take care of everything regarding Doña Sales’ funeral. Angel sees no visitors—he cannot be seen in Madrid without fear of arrest. The Marquis of Taramundi intercedes on Angel’s behalf, getting a gubernatorial leniency during the days of mourning, as long as he didn’t go out in public.
Mrs. Medina, a friend of Angel, tells him what his father-in-law (Don Manuel María de Pez) had been saying: “I’ve got no doubt at all,” he had been heard to say during a visit to the San Salamó house, “that it was that brute of a son of hers who killed her…You take my word for it, this is a case of out-and-out moral strangulation…And I should know that murderer and his wicked ways by now, because my poor Pepita was one of his victims. The fellow manages to kill without putting himself in any jeopardy, though in poor Doña Sales’ case I wouldn’t lay any bets on the strangulation’s having been purely moral.” (121: ellipsis in original)
What troubled Angel the most is that Don Manuel Pez’s view “found a sinister echo in Guerra’s own conscience.” (122)
Regarding Leré: “His relationship with her was becoming more intimate daily, and despite the intellectual blindness in which his uneasy conscience held him thrall, he recognized in Ción’s teacher a just and beautifully balanced spirit in which feelings and judgment functioned in perfect harmony and equilibrium.” (123-4)
Braulio informs Angel that he had requested money from the administrator just a few days earlier. Angel realizes that one of the Babels had forged a note to Braulio and had collected money from him. This makes him more determined to save Dulce from her family.
Angel conflicted, “a man of positivist ideas” having superstitious thoughts (about having Dulce appear at his house, an insult to his mother). (126)
Angel allows (and encourages) Ción’s fabrications.
Leré’s faith. Angel says he admires her honest blind faith and not using faith “as some kind of a mask to deceive the world and exploit the weaknesses of others.” (128)
Leré’s history: father was a drunkard, a singer in the Toldeo Cathedral. After thrown out of the cathedral he became an antique dealer. Leré was born just after he had his head bashed in by a candlestick during an argument with another tradesman. Some say her mother’s scare from this caused her eyes turn out like they did. Her older our brothers were monsters. One didn’t have any legs. Another had a deformed head. Only one of the four, Juan, is still living, being kept by her Aunt Justina and Uncle Roque. Her younger brother Sabas is normal and has a gift for music. Don José Suárez de Monegro, a friend of Leré’s family in Toledo, helps get Sabas a scholarship to study in the Madrid Conservatory. Doña Sales and others helped raise a scholarship for him to continue his studies in Paris and Brussels (where he currently lives). Sabas now 17. Her mother was a washerwoman for canons and clergymen.
Leré’s father dies, leaving them destitute. Don Francisco Mancebo (a clergyman) supported the family. Leré’s father had been dead six months when her mother remarries a man who was lazy, ugly, poor, stupid, and sick. One time he took Juan out of his box and plopped him in the middle of the street for fun. Braulio’s aunts, the Rojas ladies, get Leré out of the hell of her home and into a nunnery for education. While there Leré has a vision of the Virgin and later of her mother who had just died. The Virgin tells her to be a slave to what others want but never marry. “[T]he best freedom is having none at all.” (135) Her stepfather died before her mother. The Rojas ladies take Leré into their household. Doña Cayetana Roja dies so the surviving sister, Doña Pía, sends her to Doña Sales’ household to be Ción’s nursemaid/governess. She has been in the household for two years at this point.
Angel asks Leré if she will stay on, even if he were to remarry. “No matter who it might be, because I was born for servitude, for weariness, to be consigned to oblivion, never to be anybody, and whenever things turn out any better I always think it must be an illusion.” (137)
Angel shows little respect for Pintado, who flees back to Toledo. “There was constant acrimonious friction with the executors of the will—Medina, Taramundi, Don Francisco, Bringas, and the Marquis of Casa Muñoz.” (138) Doña Sales had set aside 20% of her estate for “pious works and prayers for her soul.” (138) Angel didn’t mind the amount, rather he disliked “the interference of those men he so disliked.” (138)
Leré admonishes Angel with her “sweet severity.” “She who practiced the religion of obedience held sawy over the despot, who was obedient only to his own whim.” (138)
Angel notes takes note of Leré’s power over him: If she were so weak that she declared herself obedient to the point of servility, humble to the point of abrogating her own personality, how was it that she [was] able to govern that which was most difficult to govern, the passions and haughtiness of the new master?” (139-40) He finds himself not just being milder around her but admiring her “physical charms.”
Several dropped words in this edition, as well as other errors such as subject-verb disagreement.
Galdós highlights Leré’s “rounded, protruding bosom” and Dulce’s “bosom that stuck out no more than a man’s.” (140)
Dulce afraid that Angels appearance of virtue would lead to actual virtue (and she would be dropped as his “contraband wife”).
Angel realizes the changes he thinks he sees in Dulce are really changes in him. These changes have touched many areas. “The long and the short of it is that my fortune and position have endowed me with a certain political skepticism, and more fondness for life than I had before, as though I’d gone from childhood to manhood. That’s not to say that my opinions on public matters aren’t the same as they’ve always been, that my desire to see them triumph is any less…but there will be others who can work for them…there will be others…so many…that…” (143; ellipsis in original)
The Marquis of Taramundi wtill running interference on Angel’s legal troubles, speaking with the Minister to help him keep his liberty (at least for the moment).
Angel rarely contacts any of his riot companions, although he does send money to Captain Montero (hiding in Paris).
Doña Sales had kept Angel on a short leash regarding money. He was surprised to see how much the estate brought in. She had hidden rolls of coins all around her room and house, too…was it just to keep him from finding it?
“And thus the new proprietor entertained himself, becoming every day fonder of his possession of wealth and of the independence it afforded him. The more securely he found himself rooted in the solid terrain of property, the greater his inclination to concentrate his goods rather than spread them about, as though his old prodigal habits had turned into the instincts of a gatherer, a collector of capital.” (146)
Angel focuses on paying off his debts, including those with Don José Bailón. He becomes more serene but still harbors sadness in his part of his mother’s death.
“All of his free time he devoted to Ción, acting as childishly as she, and carrying affection to the border of idolatry. The little girl understood the enormity of her father’s affection and exploited it for her childish ends with an instinctive skill harbingering the supreme arts of a woman of the world. She already possessed the rudiments of feminine strategy, pretending to give in in order to triumph, and making adroit use of cajolery.” (147)
Leré takes Angel’s ribbing about suitors in stride, but declares when Ción no longer needs her she will enter a religious order.
Leré embarrassed by her large breasts (made to appear bigger because of the corset she wears). Intrigued by her, Angel drills a hole in the door between his mother’s room and the governess’ room. He spends most of the night spying on her, seeing nothing but her prayers and other religious behavior. She didn’t even sleep in her bed, choosing to lie on the floor under a light blanket. Angel is disgusted with himself for his behavior and dissatisfied with her excessive piety.
He begins to understand that “it was Leré’s will which prevailed in all household matters.” (151) He notes a change in himself, part transformation, part repentance.
Angel talks to Leré about why he got involved with the rebels (thought society not ordered right, wanted to change it, etc.). Thought a new society was needed, which meant all the old institutions should be turned inside out. His contrariness grew as his mother contradicted or criticized everything he did.
Leré tells Angel his mother never bad-mouthed him in front of her. He confesses to her about being in the crowd that killed an officer and that it lies heavy on his conscience.
Ción had been sick, improved a little, then suffered a relapse. Miquis believes it be a circulatory problem (esp. the heart). Constant fever that spiked high. Ción tells really outlandish tales during her fever.
Miquis brings other doctors in for a consultation. Angel gets to the point where he realizes Ción might die. He moves to his mother’s room (next to hers). The religious pictures he had previously scorned now console him. “Gazing at them, Guerra opened up his soul to them, showing them everything he thought and felt, and shortly after the start of this communication he felt an overwhelming desire to prostrate himself before superior wills and ask them for protection in his tribulation. He became more exalted by the moment, and what had begun as an intimate spiritual request was transformed into the external forms of prayer—the folded hands, the postulant gesture, and even, finally, the kneeling. But he made no use of the prayers of the Church; instead he expressed himself with his own thoughts and ideas, vehement and disordered.” (162-3)
He renounces “every thought I ever had” while begging for Ción’s life.
He realizes he needs to be humble and have faith to make himself worthy of having his request granted. He feels a letter in his pocket—a letter from Dulce, saying she hasn’t been feeling well and asking him to see her. He bargains for Ción’s life, saying he will sacrifice his “indecent concubinage I’ve been living in. Very well, I sacrifice it. Down with immorality.” (164)
Footnote on page 164:
The line of argument [in Angel’s thought] which follows—trading Dulce for Ción—finds an echo in other Galdós novels, most especially in Torquemada in the Fire (1889), where the miser and money-lender Torquemada offers a large pearl (part of the booty from one of his extortionate loans) to the Virgin in exchange for the life of his son Valentín. It doesn’t work, of course, any more than does Angel’s proposal, but in both instances it serves to point out the character’s inability to come to terms with the real meaning of faith.
What makes Angel’s “deal” worse is that he doesn’t just offer to quit his relationship with Dulce—he offers to exchange Dulce’s life for Ción’s recovery. “But we’ve got to face facts, she’s been a sinner, and it’s not all that hard to make a choice between a sinner and an angel.” (164) He’ll give her up “for her own good.” He even begins to think his recently-deceased mother may be requesting that Ción be brought to heaven. Angel thinks he needs Ción in order to be redeemed, and thinking of Dulce’s illness he realizes it’s possible she may die. “The best thing you could do, my love, would be to go on and die; I’ll miss you, but there’s got to be an offering, a victim, an expiation, and what better role could you ask for?” (165)
Angel confides to Leré that he prayed, but she doesn’t give him any comfort. She says that God will do what is best for everyone, not just him. She also tells him his prayers need to be from the bottom of his heart and intend to enter the Church.
Angel sends a doctor to Dulce and a note, “telling her to be patient and resign herself to her fate—words the poor woman read with the greatest bewilderment, for she had undoubtedly expected something rather more tender and comforting.” (167)
Angel takes out his frustration on everyone around him. His father-in-law, Mr. Pez, shows up and reprimands him for “his lack of Christian resignation.” He follows up by asking if he honestly thought God would reward his ”attacks against morality and religion and the whole social order?” (167)
Angel jumps on Don Manuel and begins to choke him with both hands. It takes an admonishment from Leré to get Angel to stop.
Ción dies, Angel unwilling to accept it at first. Leré is distraught (like “that of a mother”) while Angel showed a stoic calm (like “the grief of a grandfather”), part out of pride, self-esteem, and probably shock. He shows a mildness, a “domestication,” uncharacteristic for him…acting much more passive and forgiving.
The day of the funeral Leré has an epileptic seizure. Angel retreats to his old room and refuses to see visitors. “His brain, exhausted by the manifold vivid impressions it had received, suffered brief spells of lethargy during which there emerged from the darkness of memory the face of a Greek mask, with a fearful tragic grimace and hair all on end.” (171)
Angel’s solitude increases. Feels “that his life no longer had purpose.” (172) He completely forgets about Dulce until she appears at his house. She looks worse because of her recent illness.
“Something had come between her feelings and his: there was a distance, an emptiness whose magnitude Guerra could easily discern and measure with just a glance within himself. He cared about Dulce, she aroused his compassion and even his affection; but that last chord she’d struck—establishing their common love for the dead child—no longer vibrated in the heart of the converted revolutionary. As far as he was concerned, Ción was nothing to do with Dulce. The two were worlds apart, their two orbits could never intersect.” (173-4)
Dulce had gone to Angel’s house anticipating that he would invite her to live in the Guerra house. His coldness bothers her, although she thinks initially it is because of “his new position.” She agrees not to come to the house again. He promises to see her soon, but “Her instinct for love sniffed out the nearby abyss.” (176)
After Dulce leaves, Leré returned from putting flowers on Ción’s grave and tells Angel she is leaving. Now that her purpose for being in the Guerra household is gone, she feels God is telling her it is time to follow her religious vocation.
Angel argues with Leré, saying the house will fall apart without her. Leré tells him he can marry Dulce, solving two problems: living in sin and the household question. Angel says he will respond to her question regarding permission to leave in a week.
Both Angel and Leré are aware of gossip about them. It doesn’t bother Leré, who continually overwhelms Angel in their discussions.
Leré deprecates her worth: “I don’t expect an experienced man of the world like yourself to change because of what I say to him; but even though I don’t have any hopes of getting you on the right road now, I’m not going to leave here without preaching you a few sermons first. You can laugh or not, and you can take them any way you want, but you’re going to get them.” (184) Her first sermon/recommendation is never to get angry for any reason. Her second one is not be stingy with charity.
Angel: “O foolish young woman, I’ve been a bit of a socialist in my time; but quite frankly, that was when I didn’t have any money. Sharing the wealth struck me as a fine idea as long as I didn’t have any to share.” (185)
Angel asks if he’s supposed to take care of rascals and swindlers too. Leré: “Decrease the need and you’ll decrease the crimes.” (186)
Her third sermon was a recommendation to avoid politics, leave it to others. Also, don’t use weapons to attack or defense. Despite what Leré is ‘preaching,’ Angel enjoys her company.
Since Leré is spending less time with Angel, he begins to go to Dulce’s for her company. She “allowed herself to dream of re-winning him. But she did not remain deceived for long, for within a few days of having her man around for a good bit of the time she realized that he was in actuality moving away from her, and there was nothing she could do about it.” His “aridity within was all to visible.” (188)
Dulce is further bothered by how nice Angel treats her family. “Fausto, Naturaleza, Policarpio, and Don Pito descended on him like a horde of locusts.” (189) Angel did enjoy the stories of Don Pito (Dulce’s uncle). Doña Catalina tells Angel about her cousin Don Pedro (in the Toledo area), who is about to pass away, leaving her castles. Doña Catalina works herself up talking about what will happen when she comes into her inheritance. Fausto keeps bugging Angel to become a financial partner for his project: the Calculation of Infallible Combinations for Winning the Lottery.
Fausto confesses to the earlier forgery, but pins the blame on Arístides. He excuses his part of the “joke” because of hunger. “Look, brother, don’t you talk to me about morality until you know what it is to be hungry.” (194) Angel gives in to him one night when Fausto says he needs money to go to Toledo.
Dulce realizes Angel’s heart “no longer belonged to her.” (196) He’s simply “going by the book.” She begins to suspect Leré as a competitor for his affection. Dulce walks home with Angel, hoping to discern the problem as well as be invited into his house…both useless.
Leré surprises Angel one night, reminding the week was up and if he consented she would leave the next morning. Angel blows up, forgetting the sermon of never getting angry. She doesn’t bother to reply.
He apologizes in the morning and says he will let her go if she stays one more day. She tells him more about her religious vocation intentions. He tries to find a way for her to stay…build a chapel, wall off part of the house, etc. She will stay with her mother’s uncle, Don Francisco Mancebo until her arrangements had been made. (Father Mancebo has been staying with Aunt Justina and Uncle Roque since their marriage.)
Angel confesses his love to Leré—he loves her for her saintliness, but her saintliness is also an obstacle to his love. It’s a “painful circle from which I can’t escape.” (202)
Angel says he will spend the night with Dulce in order to avoid Leré leaving in the morning. Leré is stunned by Angel’s confession, musing how fortunate she is that it isn’t an issue for her since she doesn’t feel that way about any man.
Pages 205-6: Leré muses on why she has such large breasts. Funniest part—musing on swapping breasts with Dulce. “Let’s swap, my friend: you take what you need and what I’ve got too much of. Then you’ll be happy and so will I.” (206)
Dulce bewildered by Angel’s intent to spend the night—he shows “no sign of contentment on his face” (206) Angel erupts at Don Pito’s arrival and nonstop talking. Pito leaves, but not without backing up his pride with spiteful words toward Angel.
In reply to Angel’s excuse that he and her family are incompatible, Dulce tells Angel “Ever since you got rich you’ve changed completely where I’m concerned. Be honest: If you don’t love me any more, just say so; if you’re planning to leave me, go ahead and get it over with now.” (210) Angel tells her he will probably have to distance himself from her, “But even if that should happen, I wouldn’t abandon you. You musn’t think I’d leave you in poverty.” (210)
Dulce’s reply: “What you’re trying to say,” she said sobbing, “is that you’re retiring me, you’re pensioning me off.” (210) Since Angel hasn’t said anything about Leré leaving Madrid, she assumes she’s behind his change of heart.
Dulce turns on Angel, mocking him and saying she knows that he’s fallen for Leré, which is the gossip around town. She insults Leré, and insults her body: “and that chunky little body with that bosom that’s got to be padded!” She calls her a hypocrite and the bosom “all wool.” Dulce mocks Angel and what he used to stand for versus his falling for a want-to-be nun. She says the priests are dangling Leré as bait to get the hands into him (and his money). When Angel had nothing, they weren’t interested in him. Now that he’s rich, they want to get their hands on his money. She calls Leré an “ecclesiastical monkey.” (212) Dulce laughs at Angel, saying she didn’t want to deny God while Angel was blaspheming to her, but now that he’s in love with a ‘nun’ she’s the one that will pay. Dulce swears off religion.
Dulce: “Honestly, when I think that a man who a few months back was hunting up sergeants to help him tear down the old order has turned into a holy hypocrite…! It’s like a dream, a nightmare…” (212; ellipsis in original)
Guerra wanted to put a stop to it [Dulce’s attacks], and had Dulce left him any room at all to call a temporary halt to their relationship, he would have accepted it gratefully; but her blundering attacks on the spiritual principle governing society had sat very badly with a man who found himself in the midst of a philosophical and moral crisis. (213)
Angel’s intent to continue to watch over her…from a distance…causes him to leave money for her, but that sets her off even more. He offers to visit again soon and wants them to remain friends. Dulce’s reply:
“Friends! Me, be your friend! Your friend, me, me…! Forget it… This is the last you’ll ever see of me… I’ll get along any way I can…. You can just go on off with that little altar-doll of yours… This is horrible… This is worse than if you’d killed me… There’s no God, no myth that can punish crimes this…dreadful!” (213; ellipsis in original)
Angel walks away from the apartment knowing it’s over and it’s how it had to be (while still declaring he won’t abandon her).
VII: Wound. Balm.
Dulce’s Uncle Pito was waiting in the street for Angel to leave so he could return to Dulce’s apartment. He sees her shouting from the balcony, then retreating to the room. He goes up and finds her collapsed on the sofa. He uses sea language: “That pirate didn’t go off and leave you on the high seas without no coal, did he, girl?” (215) He finds the money Angel left and keeps some of it for himself for safekeeping, of course. He tries to console her…in a awful manner, of course. He’s trying to get her to go fix him dinner. He offers to fix something, and, of course, pick up some champagne, too. He takes more money to go to the store.
He returns, and although Dulce has stopped crying she is in no mood for his jokes or behavior. Pito is incompetent in the kitchen, filling himself on his foul rice and wine [Valdepeñas]. Pito whips up a “balm” for Dulce: an egg, water, gin, cinnamon, sugar (but lacked the bitters to top it off). Called it a chicotel, “the comfort of the sailor.”
The drink provide comfort, pleasure, dizziness, and finally an awakening of her faculties. Most of all, it provided “an indescribable peace and the consciousness of a negative situation in her soul.” (219) A nice forgetfulness. Followed by “a sweet melancholy.” (I forgot to mention Dulce’s greyhound earlier). Pito tries to give her advice, couched in sailing terms. He equates life to the sea—don’t trust clear sailing, since that means you’ll have a bigger squall later.
Don Pito’s love of the sea, as well as his love of tobacco and drink. His alcohol intake described as “embalming himself.” (221) So many nautical terms he uses. Abusing passers-by, telling them they need to board, cast off, worry about the coming nor’-easter..or whatever. He walks about town with a “full load” of alcohol. Being separated by the sea feeds his thoughts of suicide:
It was in those tranquil spots, more than anywhere else, that he would be attacked by the mad desire to sink the old hull of life. When the guards weren’t looking he would clamber up in a poplar, or tumble down beside the little ponds so as to put his hands, and at times his head, into the water. On some occasion the cold water would clear his thoughts; at other times being wet simply got him more excited, filling him with a desire to submerge his whole body, and one afternoon the guard surprised him in the act of removing his clothes so as to take a little dip in the Campanillas pond. It was hard work convincing him that bathing wasn’t allowed there.
Cognac provides Dulce with rest, the evening of the breakup and the morning after. It provided “stupor and inertia.” (225)
Dulce goes out for a walk and feels herself drawn to Angel’s house. She runs into Braulio, who tells her that Angel has “gone off to Toledo, where Miss Leré went two days ago, gone for good.” (227)
All the help confirmed Braulio’s story.
A little while later, Don Pito tells her he had “seen the sea.” They go out for a walk, Dulce after an egg in cognac, when she floats the idea of toing to Toledo. They wander around Madrid until Dulce faints.