The Family of Pascual Duarte. Camilo José Cela. From the Dalkey Archive: The Family of Pascual Duarte is the story of Pascual Duarte—a. "the truth is that life in my family had little to recommend it. But since we are not given a choice, but rather are destined—even from before. Editions for The Family of Pascual Duarte: (Paperback published in ), X (Paperback published in ), (Paperback published in.
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Download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd. Flag for La Familia de Pascual Duarte. HC: 10 9 8 The Family of Pascual Duarte was published the same. Get this from a library! The family of Pascual Duarte. [Camilo José Cela]. The family of Pascual Duarte / Camilo José Cela ; translated from the Spanish and with an introduction by Anthony Kerrigan Cela, Camilo José,
The Family of Pascual Duarte. From the Dalkey Archive: Despite his savage and cruel impulses, Pascual retains a childlike sense of the world and a groping desire to understand the blows of fate that led him down his bloody path. We are all born naked, and yet, as we begin to grow up, it pleases Destiny to vary us, as if we were made of wax. Then, we are all sent down various paths to the same end: Some men are ordered down a path lined with flowers, others are asked to advance along a road sown with thistles and prickly pears.
He seemed to want a fght. But, I didn't want to hit him. I don't know why. I was surprised he talked to me that way. In the village no one would have dared say half so much. Look, Stretch! A thorn that day was stuck in my side and it's still sticking there. Why I didn't tear it out at the time is something I don't understand to this day. Some while later, when Rosario came home to recover from another bout of fever, she told me what followed these words.
When Stretch went to see his girl that night at La Nieves' house, he called her outside. T1at fellow had won the clay.
He had beaten me, the only battle I ever lost because I didn't keep to my own ground, and talked instead of fought. Let's talk about something else. What do you expect? It's a bad time " Stretch hit her across the face with his wicker stick until he was tired of the game. The thorn in my side felt as if it were being rubbed.
Wy I didn't tear it out at the time is something I don't understand to this day. Following the footsteps of the people involved rather than the order of events, I jump from beginning to end and from the end back to the beginning.
Like a grasshopper being swatted. But I can't seem to do it any other way. I tell the story as it comes to me and don't stop to make a novel of it. It probably wouldn't come out at all i f I did that. And be sides I' d run the risk of talking and talking only to get out of breath all of a sudden and be brought up short with no hope of getting started again.
The years passed over our heads as they do over all the world. Life in our house went down the same drains as always, and unless I were to make things up, there is very little I could mention that you could not imagine for yourself. Fifteen years after my sister was born, and just when my mother looked most like a scarecrow after all those [ 39 l years, so that we might have expected anything but an other child, the old woman swelled up i n the belly. God knows who did it. I suspect that she was already in volved at the time with Senor Rafael.
In any case, we had only to wait the usual length of time to add an other member to our family. The birth of poor Mario -for such we were to call our new brother -was more of an accidental and bothersome afair than anything else.
For, as if the scandal caused by my mother's giving birth were not enough, and by way of last straw, the whole thing coincided with the death of my father. Looked at in cold blood -and except for the tragic side of it -it would make anyone laugh. Two days before Mario's appearance, we had locked my father up in a cupboard.
A mad dog had given him a bite and, though at frst it seemed that he was not going to get rabies, he soon came down with the shakes, and that put us all on guard. Senora Engracia let us in on the fact that one look from a rabid man would cause my mother to abort. Since there was noth ing to do for the poor fellow, we got him out of the way with the help of the neighbors. Every ruse and dodge was needed, for he tried to bite us all, and if he had managed to sink his teeth into anyone, they would surely have lost an arm, at least.
I still recall those hours with agony and fright.
Lord, what a struggle! He roared like a lion, swore he would murder us all, and hi s eyes fashed such fre that I am sure he would have been as good as his word had God allowed him.
Two days, as I said, he had passed i n the cupboard, shouting like a maniac all the time, and , 4 0 ] kicking at the door, so that we had to reinforce it with boards. He made such a ruckus that it is no wonder Mario, beset also by my mother's screams, came into the world in fear and trembling, rather stupefed in fact. I was most horrifed by the fact that my mother, in stead of crying, as I expected, began to laugh. I had no choice but to choke back a couple of tears which had started up when I saw the body, with its bloodshot eyes staring wide, and a purple tongue lolling out of its half open mouth.
When it came time to bur him, Don Manuel, the village priest, preached me a small sermon as soon as he saw me. I don't much remember what he said. He spoke of the other life, of heaven and hell, of the Virgin Mary, of my father's memory. When i t oc curred to me to suggest that as far as the memory of my father was concerned, the best thing to do was to forget it altogether, Don Manuel passed his hand over my head and said that Death took men from one kingdom to another and that she grew resentful if we hated what she brought before God for judgment.
Well, of course he didn't tell it to me i n exactly those words, but in solemn measured phrases, though what he meant was "El dia de los Reyes": Epiphany, or Twelfth Night. The Span ish "Christmas," as regards gift-giving, commemorating the adora tion of the Magi at the manger in Bethlehem.
From that day on, whenever I saw Don Manuel I would salute him and kiss his hand, but then when I got married and my wife told me I looked like a minc ing pansy doing such things, I could no longer greet him. Later I learned that Don Manuel had said that I was just like a rose in a dungheap, and God knows I was seized with a fury to throttle him on the instant. Then the urge blew over and, since I am naturally quick to change even when violent, in the end I forgot it.
Be sides, after thinking it over carefully, I was never very sure of having understood the remark. Like as not Don Manuel had not said any such thing -it doesn't pay to believe everything people tell you.
Even if he had said it. Wo knows if he meant what I thought he meant! If little Mario had had any sense or any feeling when he quit this vale of tears, it's certain he would not have gone of ver satisfed.
He wasn't with us long. It seemed as if he had gotten wind of the sort of family waiting for him and he chose to sacrifce them for the company of the innocents in limbo. God knows he took the right road. How much sorrow he spared himself by sparing himself any more years on earth! He was not quite ten when he quit our house. If that was little enough time for all the sufering he was to endure, it was more than enough for him to have leared to walk and to talk, neither of which he managed to do.
The poor fellow never got beyond dragging himself along the foor as if he were a snake and making some squeaking sounds in his throat and nose as if he were a rat. It was all he ever [ 42 l learned.
Form the very frst we all saw that the poor wretch, who had been born a halfwit, would die a half wit. It took him eighteen months to sprout the frst tooth in his head, and when he did so it was so far out of place that Senora Engracia, our perpetual savior, had to yank it out with a string, for fear it would stab him in the tongue. At about the same time as the tooth inci dent -and who knows if because of all the blood he swallowed in the afair? From time to time he enj oyed a bit of peace, playing with a bottle, which was what most appealed to him, or lying out in the sun, inside the corral or in the street door.
And so the kid went along, sometimes better sometimes worse, but a bit easier now, until one day -when the little creature was four -his luck turned, turned against him for good. Though he hadn't done a thing, though he hadn't bothered a soul or tempted God, a hog begging your pardon , chewed of his ears.
Don Raimundo, the pharmacist, sprinkled him with some yellowish powder, seroformalin it was, for anti septic purposes. Poor Mario, how he did appreciate these small comforts, his black eyes glowing. If he had been badly of before, he was much worse of after the incident of the hog begging your pardon. He passed the days and nights howling and cring like a lost soul. My mother's small store of patience gave out when he needed it most, and so he spent the months eating whatever scraps were thrown him, and so flthy that even I, who -why lie?
Whenever a hog begging your pardon came in sight, an event which happened as many times daily in those parts as one wished it wouldn't, little brother was seized with a fury which drove him wild. He screamed even louder than usual, he scurried to get behind anything at all, and there was a horror in his eyes and face that was frightful enough to have stopped Satan himself dead in his tracks if he had come up out of Hell at the moment.
I remember one day -it was a Sunday -when he few i nto one of those fts and went completely wild. In his raging terror he decided -God knows why -to attack Sefor Rafael, who had come to call. Ever since the death of my father this friend of my mother's came and went from our place as if he were on conquered ground.
Little brother had the unfortunate inspiration to take a bite out of the old man's leg. He never should have done it. It was the worst thing he could have thought of, because the old man gave him a kick with the other foot, right on one of the scars where his ears had been, knocked him senseless, and left him like one dead.
Little brother began to seep through his earhole, ' 44 ] and I wondered if he wouldn't seep to death. The old fool laughed as if he had accomplished a great deed. I felt such loathing for him from that day on that I would have done him in, by my soul's salvation, the frst chance I had, if the Lord himself had not taken him out of my way.
The little creature lay stretched at full length, and my mother -I can assure you I was taken aback to see how low she acted just then -made no attempt to pick him up. She even laughed, by way of accompanying her friend. God knows I wanted to pick the poor child up of the ground, only I chose not to.
But if Senor Rafael had called me weak at that moment, by God I would have pulverized him in my mother's face! I walked into the village to try to forget the incident. On the way I met my sister -who was living at home at the time -and told her what had happened. I saw such hatred ficker i n her eyes that it occurred to me then and there that she would make a very bad enemy.
For some reason I thought of Stretch, and laughed to myself to think how my sister might some day put on those eyes just for him. When we came home a good two hours after the incident, Senor Rafael was just taking his leave. Mario still lay thrown down where I had left him, whimpering low, his mouth to the ground and his scar all livid and more awful than a clown in Lent.
I thought my sister would raise the roof, but she merely picked him up of the ground and leaned him back against the bread trough. She seemed more beautiful than ever to me that day, with her blue dress the color of the sky, and her , 45 ] air of ferce motherhood, though she was no mother and never would b. She licked his wound all night long, like a bitch licking its pups just after delivery. The kid let himself be loved, and smiled. He fell asleep, and on his lips you could still make out the outline of a smile.
That night was the only time in his life, surely, that I ever saw him smile. Some time passed without any new mishaps for Mario. But there is no escape for anyone pursued by Fate, though he hide beneath the very stones, and so the day came when he was missed and nowhere to be found, and fnally turned up foating face down in an oil vat. It was Rosario who found him. He was caught in the posture of a thieving owl tipped over by a gust of wind, turned up head over heels down into the vat, his nose stuck in the muck at the bottom.
When we lifted him out, a thin trickle of oil poured from his mouth, like a gold thread being unwound from a spool in his belly. His hair, which in life had always been the dim color of ash, shone with such lively luster that one would have thought it had resurrected on his death. Such were the wonders associated with the death of little Mario.
My mother didn't shed a tear over the death of her son either. A woman really has to have a hard heart and dry entrails when she can't even fnd a few tears to mark her own child's doom. For my part I can say, and I am not ashamed to admit it, that I cried.
And so did my sister Rosario. I grew to hate my mother profoundly, and my hate grew so fast that I began to be afraid of my- self. A woman who doesn't weep is like a fountain that doesn't fow, worthless.
Or like a bird in the sky that doesn't sing -whose wings should drop of, God will ing, for plain unmusical varmints have no need for such things! I have pondered a lot and often, till this day, truth to tell, on the reason I care to lose frst my respect and then all afection for my mother, and fnally to aban don even the formalities as the years went by. I pon dered the matter because I wanted to make a clearing in my memory which would allow me to see when it was that she ceased to be a mother for me and became an enemy, a deadly enemy -for there is no deeper hatred than blood hatred, hatred for one's own blood.
She became an enemy who aroused all my bile, all my spleen, for nothing is hated with more relish than some one one resembles, until in the end one abominate one's likeness. After much thought, and after coring to no clear conclusion, I can only say I had already lost my respect for her a long time before, when I was unable to fnd in her any virtue at all worthy of imitation, or gift of God to copy, and I had to be rid of her, get her out of my system, when I saw I had no room in me for so much evil.
I took some time to get to hate her, really hate her, for neither love nor hate is a matter of a day, but if I were to date the beginning of my hatred from around the time of Mario's death, I don't think I would be very far of. We had to dry the little fellow of with strips of lint so that he shouldn't appear all greasy and oily at the Last Judgment, and to dress him up in some percale we found around the house, and a pair of rope-soled sandals which I fetched from the village.
We tied a purple ribbon the color of mallow in a bowknot over his Adam's apple, and the little tie looked like a butter fy that had innocently alighted on a corpse.
Sefor Rafael, who in life had treated the boy in such an un holy manner and now felt moved by charity for the dead, helped us put the cofn together. First he brought the nails, then a board or two, then a pot of white-lead paint. I began to con centrate all my attention on his cheery bustle, and, without knowing exactly why, either then or now, I got the impression that he was as happy as a lark.
He began to repeat, with an absent-minded expression: Another little cherub in Heaven! And he would go on repeating, as if it were a refrain, while he nailed down a board or laid on the paint: A new little cherub in Heaven!
I recall those hours with loathing. What a fox! Let's talk of something else. There was a time when I im agined them fair-haired and dressed in fowing blue or rose-colored folds. Later, I thought they might be cloud colored and more elongated than stalks of wheat. What ever I thought, I can say for sure that I always imagined them to be altogether diferent from my brother Mario, and that of course was the reason I looked for some thing hidden in Senor Rafael's words, some double meaning, something as cunning and sly as might be expected from such a dog.
The boy's funeral, like my father's years ago, was a poor, dreary afair. Only fve or six people, no more, fell in line behind the box: Don Manuel, Santiago the altar boy, Lola, three or four old women, and me. Santiago went in front, with the cross, whistling low and kicking stones out of his way.
Next came the cofn.
Next, Don Manuel with his white vestments over the cassock, like a dressing gown. Next, the old women, weeping and wailing, so that they seemed as if they were all of them the mothers of whatever was on its way to the cemetery in the locked box. In those days Lola was already halfway to being my girl. I say halfway because the truth was that although we exchanged looks full of longing, I had never gone so far as to court her openly. I was a bit afraid she would turn me down, and, though she was always deliberately putting herself within my reach so as to help me make , 19 l up my mind, timidity always got the btter of me, and the afair kept getting more and more dragged-out.
I was nearly thirty, while she, who was a bit younger than my sister Rosario, was twenty-one or twenty-two. She was tall, dark-skinned, black-haired. Her eyes were so deep and dark that it was disturbing to look into them. Her fesh was taut, tight from the health bursting in her, and she was so well developed that a man would have taken her for a young mother. Nevertheless, and before I go on and risk the danger of forgetting it, I want to tell you, by way of sticking to the truth in all things, that she was as whole at that time as on the day she was born and as ignorant of the male as a novice in a convent.
I want to stress this point, to avoid giving any one the wrong idea about her. Whatever she might do later -and only God knows the complete story to the end -that is something between her and her con science. But in those days she was so far from any idea of vice that I would give my soul to the Devil in an instant if he could show me proof to the contrary. She carried herself with such assurance, with such arrogant strength, that she resembled anything but a poor little country girl.
And her crop of hair gathered into a thick braid hanging down her head was so mighty that months later, when I was her lord and master, I used to like to beat it against my cheeks.
It was soft and smelled of sunshine and thyme, and of the cold beads of sweet sweat that showed on the down at her temples when she was fushed. To return to what we were saying: Since the grave was already dug, all we had to do was to lower my brother into it and cover him over. Don Manuel said a few prayers in Latin, and the women knelt by the grave. When Lola went down on her knees she showed the smooth whiteness of her legs above her black stockings, tight as blood sausage.
I blush to say what I must, and may God apply the efort it costs me to say it toward the salvation of my soul, for the truth is that at that moment I was glad my brother had died.
Lola's legs shone like silverplate, the blood pounded in my temples, and my hert seemed ready to burst from my chest. I did not see Don Manuel or the women leave. I was like a man in a trance, stupefed, and when I began to come to my senses I found myself sitting on the fresh earth above Mario's body. Why I was there, or how long a time had elapsed are two things I'll never know.
I re member that the blood was still coursing in my fore head and that my heart was still trying to fy away. The sun was falling. Its last rays were nailed to a sad cypress tree, my only company.
It was hot. Tremors were run ning through my body. I couldn't move. I was trans fxed, as spellbound as if a wolf had looked me in the eye. Lola was standing there.
Her breasts rose and fell as she breathed. I'm just here. Can't you see that? Her voice was like a voice from beyond, from beneath the earth, like that of an apparition. Flung to earth, held down, she was more beautiful than ever. Her breasts rose and fell as she breathed faster and faster.
She struggled, slithered. I bit her until blood came, until she was worn out and docile as a young mare. Then she stroked my hair. You're a man! Half a dozen , 5 2 l red poppies had sprouted for my dead brother: During that time, what with questioning and visits from the defense law yer on the one hand, and being moved to this new place on the other, I didn't have a free minute to pick up my pen.
Now, after reading this batch of papers - not too large a pile at that -the most confusing ideas swirl around in my head, surging about in a great tide, so that no matter how I try I can't decide how to begin again. A heap of touble, that's what this story amounts to, a deal of misfortune, as you will have observed, and there is always the danger that I will lose heart alto gether when I get on with the rest of the story, which is even more miserable. I can only marel at the awful accuracy of my memory in these moments when all the events of my life, none of which can be undone, are b ing set down as big as they might be on a blackboard.
It's funny -and also sad, God knows! I'd be doing any of those things tha most people do without thinking. I'd be fre, as most men are free, without a thought of being free. I'd have God knows how many more years of life ahead of me, like most men, with no notion about how slow I should spend them. Through my window I can see a small garden, as well cared for and tidy as a parlor, and beyond it, all the way to the sierra, I can see the plain, as brown as a man's skin.
From time to time a line of mules crosses on the way to Portugal; donkeys jog along out to the small houses; and women and children walk by on thei way to the well. I breathe my own air, the free air that comes and goes from my cell, free because they haven't any charges against it; it's the same air that a passing muleteer may breathe tomorrow, or some other day.
I can see a butterfy, a splash of color, wheeling around the sun fowers. It futters into the cell, takes a couple of turns around the room, and makes its easy way out, as they've got nothing against it, either.
Perhaps it will go on to light on the warden's pillow. I use my cap to catch the mouse nibbling at what I'd left for him. I look at him closely, and then I let him go -I've got no charge to hold him on -and watch him run of in his mincing way into the hole where he hides, [ 55 l and from where he comes to eat the stranger's food, the leftovers of a stranger who stays in the cell only a short time, before he quits the place, most often, to go to Hell.
You would probably not believe me i f I were to tell you that such sadness sweeps over me, such melancholy, I almost dare say my repentance is much the same as a saint's. Probably you would not believe me, for the reports you have of me must be pretty bad, and the opinion formed of me by now the same, and yet. I tell you what I tell you, perhaps merely for the telling, perhaps merely so as not to give up my fxed idea that you will understand what I tell you and believe the truth of what I do not swear to on my salvation only because there would be little use swearing on that.
There is such a bitter taste in my throat that I think my heart must pump bile instead of blood. It mounts in my chest and leaves an acid taste under my tongue. It foods my mouth, but dries me up inside, as if it were a foul wind from a cemetery niche. I stopped writing at this point, for maybe twenty minutes, or an hour, or two.
Down along the path some people made their way. How clearly I saw them just now! They could not for a moment have thought that I was watching them, they walked so unconcerned. They were a party of two men, a woman, and a little boy. They seemed happy just to be walking along the path. The men must have both been around thirty. The woman was a bit younger. TI1e boy could not have been more than six. He was barefoot, and he was romp ing along in and out of the bushes like a goat.
All he [ s 6 J had on was a little shirt that left him bare from the belly down. He would trot on ahead, then stop and throw a stone at some bird he'd fushed from cover.
He wasn't at all like little Mario, and yet how he did re mind me of my brother! Te woman must have been the mother. She was dark, like all country women, and a kind of joy seemed to run through her whole body so that it made one joy ful just to look at her. She was very diferent from my mother, and yet, why did she make me think of her? You must forgive me. I can't go on this way. I'm very near to crying. A self-respecting man can not let himself be overcome by tears, as if he were a simple woman.
It will be best if I get on with my story. It's sad, of course, but it's even sadder philosophizing about it. And anyway I'm not made to philosophize, I don't have the heart for it. Not fve months had passed since the burial of my brother, however, when I was surprised -that's the way things go! It was the feast of San Carlos, in the month of No vember. I had gone to Lola's house, just as I had every day for months. And as always, her mother got up and left.
Thinking back on it later, I did fnd my girl look ing a bit peaked and pale, a bit odd, even then. She looked as if she had been crying, as if she were weighed down by some hidden sorrow. Our conversation that day -talk between us had never been exactly free and esy -was stopped dead by the sound of our voices, the way crickets shut up when they hear footsteps, or partridges take fight at the song of a hiker.
Every at tempt I made to spek got stuck in my throat, which had gone as dr as a white wall. Am I stopping you? I was left speechless by the news, which struck me at frst as something that didn't really concern me. It had never occurred to me that something everybody talked about, that something so natural and ordinary could possibly happen. I don' t know what I was thinking about.
My ears were burning. They felt red as coals. My eyes smarted, as if I'd gotten soap in them. A dead silence fell between us. It lasted several min utes. My heartbeat throbbed at my temples. T1e pulsa tions were quick and short, like the ticking of a clock. And yet it was some time before I even noticed it.
Lola seemed to be breathing through a fute. I couldn't think of any way to console her. Some die, others are born. And mine, too.
I couldn't help noticing how shaken Lola was. She looked as if she had been turned inside out. There's no cause for alarm! There wasn't anything to be seen. She was more beautiful than ever, her color faded to fair and the coil of her hair fowing free.
I went up to her and kissed the side of her face. She was as cold as a corpse. Lola let herself be kissed, with a little smile on her lips like the smile a martyr might have worn in the old days. Very happy! At that moment, that was just the way I wanted her. Young and with a child in her belly. My child. It began to please me to think of bringing him up and making a good man of him. We'll get our papers i n or der. We can't leave it at this.
But I want to tell her my self! A she went through the kitchen door I wanted her more than ever. After a bit her mother came in. She's not underage, is she? I never thought I'd see the day she'd b so quiet. I'm going to marry her. Is your mind made up? I'll call her. The two of them must have been arguing it out. When she came back, she had Lola by the hand. He wants to get married. Do you want to marry him?
I knew he'd do the right thing. Go ahead, give each other a kiss. Go on, let me see you do it. I kissed her with all my might. I pressed her against me, not minding her mother standing there watching.
And yet, that frst kiss given with permission didn't taste half as good as the kisses in the cemetery, so long ago now. Not yet. Let him stay. He's going to be your husband, isn't he?
And spent the night with her. TI1e next day, very early in the morning, I went over to the parish church. I made my way to the sacristy.
Don Manuel was getting ready to say Mass, the Mass he said for Don Jesus Genzalez de la Riva and his [ 62 ] housekeeper, and two or three other old women. He seemed surprised to see me. There's no hurry: When you see Don Jesus kneel, you kneel, too. When you see Don Jesus stand up, you stand up. When you see Don Jesus sit down, you sit down, too. But that half hour passed fying. When it was over, I went back to the sacristy. Don Manuel was taking of his vestments. I would like to get married.
A very good idea. That's why God created men and women, to peret uate the human species. And who is the girl you want to marry? Is it La Lola?
Yesterday she told me what was up. Cod will forgive you everything and you w11 gain consideration even in the sight of men. A child born out of wedlock is a sin and a shame. A child born of parents wed in the Church is a blessing of Cod. I'll fx up the papers for you.
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