—49→ —50→ —51→
Uniting the four volumes of Galdós' long masterpiece into a coherent scheme is a task open to various names, depending on the purpose in mind. If we want to state in brief what the volumes say, we may summarize the story; if we want to know what shape the elements of the story assume, we may study the author's use of them -their interrelated functions- and consequently, the novel's structure. The latter has been done, and admirably well, by Ricardo Gullón in his Estructura y diseño en «Fortunata y Jacinta», to which I will be referring frequently. In the first case, our task would be called a summary; in the second, a structural study. These distinctions may sound too obvious at first, but I hope to show in the course of this essay that they may need to be made afresh when we consider a literary work, especially when the text is esthetically rich and complex. The reason for such a reconsideration of terms is that both tasks -perhaps better labelled as «operation» and «venture» respectively -are, in my opinion, susceptible to enough subjectivity so as to make one at least partly dependent on the other. If we accept this, we are in effect saying that the literary concepts of summary and structure are interdependent.
A summary is not an automatic reduction of a story to certain details. Even among readers of similar taste and background, there is no such thing as one summary. Just as an author tells something in a particular way, creating a specific plot, so his readers may summarize in their particular ways. That reactions differ (within the limitations dictated by the plot, of course) is proven by the various retellings of a story or, more noticeably, by versions of it in other mediums: a novel adapted to film, set to music, synthesized in a poem, depicted in illustrations... The consistency of these «versions» depends mainly on what the reader brought to the text. Summaries, similarly, may vary considerably, for they are less a reproduction than a recreation. Borges' Pierre Menard carries this to the extreme: even a work reproduced word for word is called a «recreation». Why? Because a different individual has intervened. In our search for viable methods of studying literary texts, we repeatedly collide with this phenomenon of individuality, present in all artistic works. Because of its importance, full inquiry into its nature seems necessary if we hope to develop true method in literary criticism.
When an author overtly declares as Julio Cortázar does in Rayuela that his work may be read either in one of several ways or else however one wishes, the issue of subjectivity -and individuality- becomes central. The possible summaries and structures of material whose amoebic distribution permits numerous forms (and implicitly, critical formulations) may be infinite. But his case is somewhat extreme. By relativizing the text itself, Cortázar, like Laurence Stern, —52→ moves his reader from the more usual duality art-life to the less common one of art-criticism. Instead of providing a substantial slice of writing. Cortázar reslices it first, replacing traditional art with analysis, and games with gymnastics; the vital duality art-life, or illusion-reality, takes second place.
What I want to explore now is a less extreme case: a novel free of literary self-consciousness. Since a story may be retold validly by more than one summary, the importance we should concede to subjectivity when discussing a literary work is at least ponderable. What concerns me now is, how can that subjectivity determine our perception and indeed, the novelistic structure, itself?
A novel written to be read simply as «Two Stories of Married Women», as the subtitle of Fortunata and Jacinta suggests, predisposes us to relate the two women with the institution of marriage. Also, Galdós says that he will tell two stories, presumably fitted together as one novel. But how we read the story is another matter. If we consider Fortunata and Jacinta a panorama of late nineteenth-century Madrid society -and this has been the traditional critical response- the Santa Cruz couples and their world occupy the center, while the other groups (the Rubíns, the Izquierdos, the Micaela nuns, Feijoo, Juan Pablo's tertulias, etc.) fill in a background spotlighted by parts, thus constituting a crossection of Spanish life in Madrid at the time. Fortunata, the only character who really breathes the atmosphere of all groups, either because of a romantic tie (with Juan, Maxi, Feijoo) or actual residency (the convent, the Rubín home, her various apartments, her aunt's house), is the main connecting element, and her mobility contrasts with the Santa Cruzes' stability. Guillermina Pacheco, «the saint», performs the same communicatory function, although less thoroughly and for different purposes.
The invisible net of relationships spreading across the various social classes shown is one of the novel's «organizers». After Galdós' exhaustive account of the Santa Cruz and Arnaiz family trees in Volume I, the reader is well prepared for more crisscrossings of other branches growing or grafted onto the two examined trees.
Reading Fortunata and Jacinta as an account of these diverse groups, one feels at the end that the tour has been complete; Galdós has drawn such a minute, yet vibrant picture of each group and character that they seem to have really existed with all their peculiar interrelationships. Their «reality» is so impressive that one may shrink from the idea of structuring it. The novel seems too much like life. And everyday life, even though over a period of years may develop a design, is not something we instinctively «structure». So in preserving the illusion of material over the impression of artistic substance, Galdós has created a work that sends us back to life.
But Galdós' esthetic achievement is bound to be underrated, because he has made it all seem so easy, as if the text had somehow written itself. His novels ask to be enjoyed, not analyzed; no codes tease the cleverness of the reader. If the artistic merits of his apparent transparency are recognized and acclaimed, better yet; but his novels do not depend on being «discovered», and this, I think, is their ultimate value -that they can be enjoyed on any level, and thus fulfill the purpose of art as stated by the Russian formalist Victor Shklovsky: «Art —53→ exists to help us recover the sensation of life; it exists to make us feel things, to make the stone stony».
At the end of the novel, however, Galdós does voice his attitude on the artistic transformation of life, conveying in one sentence an awareness remarkable in a nineteenth-century realist: «well-ripened raw fruit is a very good thing, and so is a compote, if the cook knows what he's doing». Typically humorous and unpompous, he dismisses the belief that only certain kinds of art are prestigious by saying metaphorically that they can all be good -if they are good to begin with.
Should Fortunata and Jacinta be studied as «raw fruit», as a «compote», or could it be placed in either category depending on how we read the story? The traditional view of Galdós' novel as a documentary suggests the former: language, characters, scenario and historical detail in the novel certainly qualify it as «raw fruit». But Ricardo Gullón has shown that it is not only that. Although he recognizes its worth as a Balzacian type documentary, what leads him to rank it as Galdós' masterpiece is its esthetic inventiveness. The structural novelty of Fortunata and Jacinta is, he says, that «it is based on the classic triangle of amorous conflict: wife, husband, lover. But in this novel the triangle is a changing one: it un-forms and re-forms; from the beginning until the end it is a same [triangle], but it is not the same one. Its components vary [...]. This structure, being at once constant and variable, facilitates the unity of the narration without depriving it of its dynamism»106. Later, Gullón adds that «the adjustment between the social and the personal is structurally perfect: not only do elements of the former enter into the amorous conflict; the division of Madrid society -the novelistic material used by Galdós- is also three-part, that is, similarly triangular». (p. 2) The entire novel may be synthesized, in Gullón's opinion, in the figure of the changing triangle whose only constant angle is Fortunata, the «key figure of the structure and of the novel» (p. 5). Whether this changing triangular structure was deliberate on Galdós' part or not, the powerful fact remains: it is there.
A few pages from the end, Galdós uses one of his characters to express his artistic interest in Fortunata's story, perhaps to remind us that the long story we have read is, after all, a literary creation despite its overwhelming realism. The character Ponce, a «famous judgment-passer on literary works», remarks to the grieving Ballester that in Fortunata's story «there were elements for a drama or a novel, although in his opinion, the artistic texture would not be appealing unless it were warped in certain places, which was utterly necessary so that the vulgarity of life could become esthetic material (p. 380)107.
How much «warping» was done is not said. Is Galdós dismissing his esthetic achievement with his characteristic mixture of modesty and irony? Or is he using a device common among nineteenth-century realists: understating his artistic intentions so as to assure the novel of its desired realism? Until Gullón elucidated the structure, Fortunata y Jacinta was not recognized for its purely esthetic worth, not even by contemporary critics whom one would expect to be interested precisely in this aspect of the novel. Now, it is feasible to study Galdós' novel as «raw fruit» or as a «compote».—54→
With this established, we may return to the question of subjectivity and the quest for valid readings of Fortunata. Given the existence of its triangular structure, we may wonder if there are other organizing principles, and whether -supposing there are- they result from a different reading, and whether the author intended only one of these or various.
Earlier I mentioned the subtitle as one indication that Galdós wanted his novel to be read as two stories of married women. Little by little, we discover how the two women are linked: they love the same man; both want to have a child by him; only one of them is married to him; and only the unmarried one will have his child. Soon in their marriage, Jacinta discovers Juan's infidelity, but she continues to be the loving and dutiful wife. Her desire for a child arises more from her own need of love and maternal delights than from a wish to perpetuate a romantic relationship, which is what stirs Fortunata's desire for a second child108.
After the end of the story about Pituso, emphasized by the discovery that he is no longer alive, we begin to feel the contrast between the two women's desire for a child. Jacinta's yearning is basically domestic, whereas Fortunata's is more romantic. But although the motives for their maternal desires are quite different, they turn out to be complementary in the novelistic design. Regarding them as components of the romantic triangle structure, we may say that Fortunata and Jacinta are members of a changing triangle; but when we regard them as components of the procreative triangle, we see that they are members of the permanent triangle Jacinta-Juanito-Fortunata.
Two points must be kept in mind, however. First, Juanito is not the protagonist despite his function of closing the triangle; and second, although the members of the procreative triangle are paired with changing partners during the course of the novel, in the end no angle is superfluous or exchangeable; the three original members ultimately form the only shape which the events of the novel could have led to: their triangle. Just as Jacinta's and Fortunata's reasons for wanting a child are complementary -not opposite, but complementary, and this is significant-, so their functions as maternal figures are complementary in the novel's ultimate plan: the resolution of the theme of procreation in a child who makes of seemingly incompatible entities, harmonious parts. The definitive heir is not purchased with money, but offered in love, and this is what creates the novel's harmony.
Galdós not only offers us the classic amorous triangle and variants thereof; he also presents parenthood in a triangle. The fact is all the more curious when we recall that Volume I is devoted to describing the gradual evolution of a family, their fortune and their «perfect» heir, Juan, the end product of a process which we witness as the steady ascent of Baldomero and Barbarita in the business world of Madrid. Little do we realize that the economic, social and family orders developed in Volume I will be able to continue only by incorporating a differently produced heir in Volume IV.
If we read Fortunata and Jacinta as a novel on maternity, or more generally, procreation, we may study it as such through its bird and egg imagery. Did Galdós conceive of this imagistic progression (for the images become that) to be an organizing principle, that is, a motif of his novel? His artistic stance —55→ as expressed in the sentence quoted allows us to speculate; but more significantly, the insistent comparisons throughout the novel of characters and birds, together with the presence of an egg in certain dramatic scenes, suggests that the images are there not merely to decorate metaphorically, but to serve structurally.
Starting with the first key images, we find both motifs, bird and egg. The scene -well studied by Stephen Gilman in his article «The Birth of Fortunata»109- is the poultry shop at the entrance to the building where Estupiñá lives. The actors are Juanito Santa Cruz, on his way to visit his family's ill servant and friend, and- Fortunata, whom he meets by chance going upstairs. Just before their meeting, the narrator has shown us the poultry shop through Juanito's eyes:
Juanito continues up, sees an open door and:
Attracted, Juanito stops and asks her what she is eating. She replies, «A raw egg», and offers him some. He refuses, disgusted, but lingers on to talk a bit before continuing upstairs.
Literal description, metaphor and metonymy have a curious relation in this scene. Juanito walks smack into a chicken coop, of which we are given a naturalist view; then he sees a pretty woman whose first gesture likens (not to say confuses) her with a hen. So from the very beginning, Fortunata is associated with a kind of winged creature. And she is sucking on a raw egg, physically imbibing an element of her surroundings as naturally as if she were breathing air. She is an integral part of the poultry shop, and this is what surfaces in Jacinto's mind chapters later, in the honeymoon scene in Sevilla, when he confesses to his new wife that «his conscience is spilling, like an urn falling over» (I, 138). His memory is plagued by images of the woman he has mistreated, and not surprisingly he remembers her best as follows:
Era la paloma madre de los tiernos pichoncitos... Luego les daba su calor natural... los arrullaba, les hacía rorooó... les cantaba canciones de nodriza... ¡Pobre Fortunata, pobre Pitusa!
In telling Jacinta how Fortunata nursed the baby pigeons, he reveals his love, his sense of loss and for the first time, insight into Fortunata's soul; the —56→ image is idealistic and the tone, tender. The metonymical images of the first meeting, which captured the immediacy of the moment in an accumulation of partial impressions rather than a total view (which would require distance -emotional, temporal or spatial), have been replaced. Intuition has made many perceptions merge into a full view of a character we came to know by parts. Appropriately, and typical of nostalgic images, this new description of Fortunata is saturated with her essence: her maternal soul. Exterior details no longer play the crucial part in characterization. What Juanito conveys now is that Fortunata not only works with, moves like, or feeds the pigeons; she is one, to them. The mother-child relationship is so strong that it blurs what had seemed predominant: her occupational role.
Returning to the first scene of the meeting, there is another motif worth mentioning in connection with the literal, metaphorical and metonymical description: the stone staircase. Juanito enters the building at the foot of the stairs, the location of the naturalist subject. Above this, we find out later, is another entrance to the building through a cobbleshop on the next floor called «The Lily Branch», Juanito's way in on future visits to Fortunata. (The implied contrast of the chicken coop versus the Easter lily is so stark that it need not be commented on, I think). At the first meeting, the door marked «The Lily Branch» is not included, though. Several «flights» up from the ground floor he sees Fortunata, whose bird-like aspects we have mentioned. The final comparison made between her and a bird on that occasion is consistent with the other naturalist images of birds given. While she is talking to Juanito, her aunt calls her to come down, and her screeching reply is called a «digno canto de tal ave» (I, 86). The ironic language emphasizes the reality described.
On the top floor lives Estupiñá, whose profile has gained over the years, the narrator tells us a few pages earlier, «a certain resemblance to that of a parrot» (I, 79). This comparison of a visual attribute is enforced by the tacit comparison of another feature common to both: garrulity. In keeping with the metonymical images of the scene, Estupiñá's personality is summarized by a part -his profile. This view of him is emphasized later by the gift Jacinta and Jacinto bring him from their honeymoon -a cane whose handle depicts a parrot's head.
After the dramatic presence of birds in the poultry shop scene, we may overlook the development of this motif in the next chapter, where references to birds become scattered and appear incidental. But if we put together the metaphors contained in this chapter, we discover that there is continuity. Juanito, Jacinta and her mother are worked into the imagistic design, thus completing the distribution of bird metaphors to main characters.
First, Juanito. Barbarita thinks of him as her «chicken» (I, 95), a common metaphor for filiality. She also thinks of him as a bird to be caged into a marriage of her choosing; the narrator says she is a «persona lista y conocedora de las mañas del ave que era preciso aprisionar» (I, 95). By caging her little bird, she hopes to control his habits and lifestyle, which began to change during his relationship with Fortunata. Barbarita's choice of mate is perhaps one of the most ironic facts of the novel. She weds her son to his cousin Jacinta, daughter of doña Isabel Cordero, the ideal mother in Fortunata and Jacinta whom Galdós fully admires, judging from the narrator's epithets: «aquella gran —57→ mujer [...] agraciada además por el Cielo con una fecundidad prodigiosa» (I, 58); and «heroína y mártir del deber, autora de diecisiete españoles, se embriagó de felicidad sólo con el olor de olla» (I, 102). To a contemporary reader, the virtues extolled here may not sound impressive, but if we measure personal worth by the well-being one can give others, as the author has, morally here, Galdós' heroine retains her stature. The emotional response which a heroine of her type could create then is less widespread now because fertility and domestic achievement have lost much of their traditional value.
Galdós is careful to underline the strains as well as the glories of motherhood, for he understood how consuming it could be when undertaken fully and with many children. Of the Corderos entering church, he says:
The presentation of Jacinta's mother as an archetype and her family as the classic brood prepares the reader to expect continuity in Jacinta, a harmonious part of her family. So when the continuity is broken, the effect is more dramatic than it would have been if Jacinta had come from a smaller family; doomed to perpetual daughterhood, she is denied by nature the children she longs for.
Having glimpsed the metaphors applied to doña Isabel (shepherdess of a flock; leader of a brood of turkeys; and implicitly, lamb [«Cordero»], whose death «fue de esas que vulgarmente se comparan a la de 'un pajarito'» (I, 102), let us return to her daughter. The first bird metaphors related to her have no special meaning, since they refer to Jacinta's and Juanito's age and romantic infatuation; they are in «la edad del pavo», and as soon as they break the ice -the «tránsito de la fraternidad al enamoramiento» -they are «picoteando todo el santo día» (all in I, 99). These are examples of incidental references in which language itself, not a particular character, event or atmosphere, incites the metaphor. At this point, comparisons with birds are neither deliberate nor revelatory. They are of interest, though, because they combine with other similarly incidental references to create the frivolous, airy tone of the courtship and honeymoon chapters, where the bird motif moves into the background.
During the trip to Sevilla, Jacinta and Juanito see nature at its prettiest -landscapes from a train window, birds perched on telegraph wires, flocks decorating the sky, puddles or «little lakes where the birds could have drunk if they had been thirsty that day» (I, 121). The tone is clearly romantic now, and the species of winged creatures, poetic. Birds become a sensorial pleasure too. At one of the train stops Juanito buys his bride a Spanish delicacy, fried birds, which the narrator calls (and the italics are the author's) a «montón de cadáveres» (I, 127). This is the first link -visually and linguistically- between the chicken-victims and the birds-in-the-background.
The next link appears ten pages later, once the couple are in Sevilla. On the verge of confessing to Jacinta, Juanito says «te quiero más, cielito, paloma...» (I, 138), a prelude to the idealized image of Fortunata. Juanito's emotional —58→ disruption (from drinking), his bad conscience and the stimulation from new surroundings precipitate a fusion of the two lines of bird imagery. What was naturalistic has become romantic; the poultry shop birds that disgusted Juanito seem beautiful to him now, and Fortunata has become an idealized «paloma madre» (I, 139). The author's timing is precise: Juanito's confession of his underlying love for Fortunata occurs on his wedding trip, when his sudden and seemingly troublesome intimacy with Jacinta revives his past. How fitting that he should call Fortunata a pigeon -the most sexual of birds- and sad that he should call Jacinta a thistle -the flower of sterility- especially when we recall the narrator's description of Jacinta:
Por su talle delicado y su figura y cara porcelanesca, revelaba ser una de esas hermosuras a quienes la Naturaleza concede poco tiempo de esplendor, y que se ajan pronto, en cuanto les toca la primera pena de la vida o la maternidad.
But a literary character is not necessarily captured by one metaphor; Jacinta is hardly a «thistle». She only seems like one to Juanito, and perhaps her awareness of his dissatisfaction is what makes being more so hard. After all, although we are what we are, the treatment we receive affects our sense of self too; reactions of others can be quite decisive. Bearing this in mind, the next reference to birds (concerning Jacinta) gathers meaning. Home in Madrid, Juanito gives his new bride a lecture that would probably dampen the spirits of even a more aggressive woman:
La luna de miel perpetua es [...] hasta ridículo. [...] Hasta las palomas, hija mía, hasta las palomas cuando pasan de cierta edad, se hacen sus cariños así... de una manera sesuda.
Meanwhile, he is seeing Fortunata secretly. Jacinta suspects as much but is helpless, and in her frustration seeks comfort from her secret hope that she will one day have a child, a person who will return her love. This state of longing climaxes in her dream in the theatre, a revelatory mixture of the bird motif and the sterility of the thistle image.
The contrasts and parallels between Jacinta's dream and Juanito's drunken monologue on Fortunata are surprising; it seems that just as Fortunata later tries to emulate Jacinta, so Jacinta here -albeit unconsciously- tries to be Fortunata. If this is so, the complementary nature of the two women as mothers, one helped by her contact with nature (which Galdós in another context calls «maternal compañía») and the other hindered by her overprotection from it, is an essential point to consider, for it indicates that the two are linked in this respect at a deep level -dreams- and very soon in the novel. In her dream, Jacinta is in her element:
Juanito's maternal image of Fortunata starts with no preamble or obstacles:
«¿Sabes lo que es el ganado? Las gallinas. Después criaba los palomos a sus pechos. Como los palomos no comen sino del pico de la madre, Fortunata se los metía en el seno, ¡y si vieras tú qué seno tan bonito!»
The atmospheric contrast is sharp -an elegant parlour versus a corral- and yet the action is basically alike: a mother feeding her young. Jacinta wants to, but her fear stops her; the child must insist. The details in her dream -references to textures, objects, endless buttons, sophisticated child -and the elaborate attempt to nurse, reveal how confused and unmaternal Jacinta feels and how troubled she is by propriety. Her breast is a «pretty thing»; the baby is a «boy-man»; her acquiescence to nurse him requires great effort. Some of her sense of inadequacy undoubtedly comes from Juanito's discouragement in reality, and perhaps too, his earlier praise of Fortunata. The drama is a mixture of Jacinta's feeling that she cannot, or should not, want to nurse the child. Yet she dreams precisely of that. When she wakes up and looks for her husband in his box at the theatre, she sees instead a picture which strangely completes her disappointing dream; a friend of theirs is in ecstasy produced by the music:
The substance is not called milk, and the man is not a baby; but perhaps because of the juxtaposition the image conveys the contentment of a child at its mother's breast.
The increasing number of allusions to children on the pages preceding the theatre scene encourage the comparison; the maternal theme has entered from various directions. In retrospect, the crescendo is clear: the child theme is introduced gradually, preparing for the appearance of the first «heir» who, when proven false, is dropped so that the real novel may resume, leaving the feverish business of the instant son to be forgotten, much like an intercalated story whose reality, being fiction within fiction, loses force.
When Jacinta is discouraged by Juanito and the possibility of motherhood wanes, the narrator turns to another character, Guillermina. Pacheco, the «spiritual mother» whose great ambition is to build an orphanage. Interestingly, Guillermina compares her activity to a bird's:
«¿Ven ustedes cómo hacen los pájaros sus nidos? Pues yo construiré mi palacio de huérfanos cogiendo aquí una pajita y allá otra».
The saint, as she is called, is engaged in the maternal business of protecting the defenseless.
Raising money for her friend's enterprise partially satisfies Jacinta's need to help in some maternal project, but it naturally does not fulfill her. It is when she suddenly hears one day from Ido del Sagrario that Juanito's child is alive that her maternal instinct is re-awoken. Again, bird imagery marks a dramatic event, but with a novelty: the images issue from Jacinta this time. In her jealousy and anger she orders Ido to leave, hoping to be able to dismiss his shocking story. Her metaphors register the emotional tension in the scene. After she has closed the door on Ido,
Figurábase Jacinta que al través de la madera [...] veía [...] su cara de pavo, que ya le era odiosa como la de un animal dañino. «No, no abro [...] pensó. Es una serpiente».
The two metaphors, «pavo» and «serpiente», further the progression of images. The narrator earlier compared Ido to a turkey «when the excitement of a fight with another turkey converts him into a ferocious animal» (I, 231). Also, Juanito's graphic description of Fortunata and her bird-world could well have contributed to this association, which Ido's face itself apparently stimulated. The snake metaphor clinches the horror and ugliness of the turkey metaphor. Formerly likened to a «gusanillo», Jacinta's longing for a child has suddenly taken the shape of an awful snake, a painful story she does not want to believe. How ironic that Juanito, of all people, should have been the one to lend credibility to Ido's words. When the latter's nervous excesses frightened his wife earlier, Juanito reassured her with:
Fuera de eso [his obsession with adultery] es muy razonable y muy veraz en cuanto habla).
And how appropriate esthetically, that a writer of feuilletons should break the «news» to Jacinta, thus culminating her imaginings melodramatically.
Through his exact use of metaphor, Galdós shows how his character imagines and then actually feels a fact. Jacinta imagines Ido as a snake only until she acknowledges to herself afterwards in quiet reflection that his story might be true. At this point, the bird and snake images are transferred by an omniscient narrator to her, and we see that it was her reaction to the story, not the storyteller Ido, which inspired the metaphors. Jacinta's thoughts are:
The pigeon has replaced the turkey, and the «serpent», she discovers, is not Ido but an inner sensation of her own. It is comforting to arrive at a kinder view of Ido some thirty-five pages later, when the narrator, again using bird imagery, describes Ido's escapade to a tavern:—61→
The multiplicity of bird metaphors reflects among other things the emotional inflation caused by Ido's feuilleton. The feverish pace of his tale and his staccato, often surrealistic language require for stylistic consistency, that the bird motif develop accordingly. After the metaphorical transformations occasioned by his story, the bird motif begins to operate in new ways. Being firmly established now -there has been a distribution of metaphors and development of them- the motif can begin to work backwards. When Jacinta and Guillermina go into the «Cuarto Estado» in search of Juanito's supposed child,
The approached «como las chulas», like one of Fortunata's kind. The reversed association, bird [imagen] character, proves that a degree of interpenetration has been reached; imagistic details in the novelistic world can reflect back on others because in the reader's mind, memory of the motif is possible. The «reflejos irisados en el cuello» contribute to the hopeful aura of this scene, contrast to the grotesque image of Ido's neck (I, 231) which led up to the turkey metaphor and was associated with the scandalous aspect of the story. Here, the bird motif is not enunciated; it forms part of the events, and as such, is more atmospheric than characteristic.
In addition to the reverse bird associations, there is an interesting duplication of the Fortunata-Juanito meeting. This time it is Jacinta who is «seduced», not Juanito, and the offer comes from the child Pituso. During negotiations for his purchase, she offers him some candy which he starts to eat. Then,
De repente el muy pillo la miró, y sacándose el caramelo de la boca se lo ofreció para que chupase ella.
Like Juanito, she refuses the offering, although not in disgust. The prosaic reason -that she has plenty of candy- is also the reason she will get the child: she can buy him. One of the poignant aspects of Jacinta's maternal readiness is its confusion with monetary generosity, Until the end of the novel, her attempts at adoption (of Pituso, and to a certain extent, Adoración too) are tainted by her financial intervention.
The circumstances of Pituso's arrival in the family -at Christmas time- emphasize the distance separating Jacinta's illusions from reality; rather than a child (the parallel with the Christ child crosses one's mind), Pituso comes as a Christmas gift which is discovered after much scrubbing at Candelaria's house not to be sterling after all. The purchase was a gyp. Money could conceivably have brought-bought the real thing, but it did not, and the failure stresses the cruel irony of Jacinta's situation; she must appear contented in —62→ her outwardly perfect circumstances, and continue to suffer. For the reader,too, the story seems to be at a stalemate: romantic and maternal tensions have vanished.
Volume I is revitalized at the very end by Fortunata's reappearance. Her new looks, as well as Jacinto Villalonga's report, are highly dramatized, conflicting with earlier images of her and thus producing in both the main characters and the reader a 'defamiliarization' which, according to Shklovsky, helps recover the sensation of life. By allowing a minor character to describe her dazzling transformation, Galdós manages to stir Juanito's curiosity as well as his reader's literary curiosity about the changed character: what of Fortunata's maternal essence? Again, the timing is precise: when the maternal theme has come to a dead end, the romantic theme initiates a new sequence of events. The novel has shifted from the fake Pituso to the real mother.
Structurally considered, the reintegration of Fortunata into the plot is a step toward her ultimate role in the novel: that of mother of the Santa Cruzes' child; but this is not apparent until the end. What the reader -and Jacinta, who overhears her husband's conversation with Jacinto- experiences is romantic intrigue. When will Juanito go back to Fortunata? What will happen? How long will their affair last this time? How will Jacinta weather this new infidelity? What of her desire to have a child? etc. The string of questions planted at the end of Volume I is naturally designed to hold the reader's attention, encourage him to go on to Volume II. But there is a delicate point here. The incentive to keep reading must not be confused with the structural tension of a novel; they may overlap at times, but the two impulses are not identical.
Had Galdós been more interested in the romantic love of Fortunata and Juanito (or in any of the other male protagonists), he would, undoubtedly, have devoted more attention to details of the relationships. As it is, though, the novel tells very little about Fortunata as an erotic figure; only when her seductiveness is unrelated to the events of the main story is it dwelled upon, and only then is she explicitly likened to other «chulas». When Fortunata is at the height of her seductive power (in Paris and afterwards, Madrid), she is absent from the main story, as if Galdós perhaps wished to separate «his» Fortunata, the character destined to become a rather complex literary heroine, from the merely tantalizing exterior which Jacinto takes to be her self-realization.
Confronting the various «essential» images presented of her, one realizes how dynamic a character Fortunata is. She is interpreted differently by different characters and at the same time changes herself. The reason the differences and changes impress us so vividly in her case is that it is unique in the novel. No other character of Fortunata and Jacinta elicits such a variety of responses from others of the fictional world, and no other character, except Maxi, undergoes such dramatic personal changes; exactly how the two aspects interrelate is hard to say. One can assume, though, that her greater dynamism contributes to our overall impression of Fortunata as the force of mobility opposed to the stability of the other protagonist, Jacinta.
Bearing in mind the characterizational value of Jacinto Villalonga's image, we may say that Fortunata becomes, in the last chapter of Volume I, a cathartic figure: she both restores the suspense for the reader by introducing romance, —63→ and takes up the slack in the structural tension, by posing the possibility of a second child.
In continuing our study of the maternal theme through bird imagery, we find in Volume II a significant change. Standing back from the whole work, we could say that Volume I is a concentrated presentation of the theme through images; II is a retreat from the natural world and the «reformation» of the protagonist; III is a rebellion against the various orders superimposed on Fortunata in II an a re-education of the protagonist; IV is a return to Volume I and a resolution of the theme, set once again in a profusion of imagery. The abundance of bird images in I and IV versus their relative scarcity in II and III corresponds with the degree of procreational activity (interpreted broadly) present in each volume.
But in opening Volume II, a second organizational principle, or motif, is added to the already introduced main one of bird imagery, and this second one, if we are to consider the novel's structure in its entirety, must be studied when it first appears. The beginning of Volume II, like that of Volume I, consists of an introduction (on the first page) to the male protagonist of that volume. This pattern exists in all four volumes, and may therefore be considered a motif in the novel. I will refer to it as the «introductory motif». Forsaking the linear clarity promised by an analysis centered exclusively on the bird motif, we may at least hope to reflect more accurately the sensation of simultaneity caused by the use of several overlapping organizational principles. Later it will be possible to integrate the two.
Relating the opening scenes and characters of the four volumes, we find a distinct arrangement of the novelistic material. The two sets formed by the abundance and scarcity of bird imagery are I-IV and II-III, respectively. But viewed as four units corresponding to the four male protagonists, the volumes divide into I-II and III-IV.
Volume I opens with an introduction to the so-called «ideal hero», Juanito Santa Cruz: handsome, witty, well-born, he is the young man who is to be Fortunata's lifelong passion. Volume II immediately presents its main character, Fortunata's future husband, as a foil: Maximiliano Rubín is the homely, tonguetied, parentless nephew of a widowed aunt. These first portraits undergo changes in the course of the novel (in Maxi's case, dramatic ones), but since they are the most detailed views offered by the author, they impress at least this reader as the most characteristic ones.
The openings of the last two volumes contrast jointly with those of the first two in that they focus not on a single character and his surrounding family, but rather on social groups. Galdós starts Volume III in the café, traditionally the Spaniard's second home; and instead of picking out the member of the tertulia who is to be the protagonist of this volume, he places him in the shadow of a secondary character, Juan Pablo Rubín. For good reason: the covert presentation of Feijoo sets the tone for his private romance and secret mediatory role in Volume III. The technique is adroit; we are indirectly prepared from —64→ the start to associate discretion with Feijoo. If the author had spotlighted Feijoo as he centered on the protagonists of I and II, and thereby pointed him out as «the third main figure» in Fortunata's life, he would have violated his character's explicit and repeated wish to guard his romantic life in total secrecy. This type of author-character empathy is typical of Galdós, whose novelistic designs mesh imperceptibly with the personal necessities of his literary characters. Somehow he manages to understate Feijoo's importance («Don Evaristo González Feijoo merece algo más que una mención en este relato», III, 11) yet convey precisely who he is, as later description testifies. An analysis of Galdós' techniques of character creation in Fortunata and Jacinta would be rewarding, I am sure, if done completely. But what we must limit ourselves to now is, how the understatement of Feijoo fits into the scheme of volume openings, which in turn relate to the main structural motif, the bird imagery.
Volume III, then, opens in a café, Juan Pablo's «home». The setting, unlike the relatively permanent ones of the Santa Cruz and Rubín family homes, is changeable, and so are some of the participants of the tertulia. Mobility is the keynote here, and the tertulia members, whom the narrator individualizes rather scientifically by segregating them into categories, are outlined by their group. Men are seen as «migrating flocks» (III, 33, 39). The metaphor is loose, and not an integral part of the progression begun in Volume I, but as an example of characters collectively compared to birds, and as a regrouping of the novel's masculine figures by their social personalities (characters from this and other novels appear in the tertulia scenes), it deserves mention.
The increasing mobility of Volume III becomes outright instability in Volume IV, whose feverish tempo, sustained delirium, and indeed, pregnancy in every sense, are all hinted at in the first few pages, set in a pharmacy. Pace becomes more noticeable than any individual face; suspense and structural tension again act together, as at the end of Volume I.
A word about this volume's male protagonist, Segismundo Ballester111. Fitting into the overall introductory pattern, he appears on the first page; this time the author includes no autobiographical or physical details about the protagonist-to-be. Perhaps Ballester's structural importance can be best understood if we relate the details of his introduction to his function in the III-IV set and to the whole scheme.
In Volumes III and IV, Galdós downplays the entrance of the major character by shifting from him to his surroundings and by not naming the chapter after him (which he did in I and II). Also, this set (like I-II) contains opposite types; the married men, Juanito and Maxi, contrast, just as the bachelors Feijoo (III) and Ballester (IV) do. Feijoo personifies discretion, individual freedom and adventure, whereas Ballester, who delights in trivial intrigue -gossip would be too strong- is anchored to his job and the responsibility of supporting his mother and sister. Ballester's romantic «adventures» take place in his mind, and his constant desire, idealizing its object, plays a significant role in the literary crystallization of Fortunata, as we shall see.
Judging by the space allotted to the four protagonists, we might conclude that they enter the novel in order of their importance. Juanito and his family are given almost all of the first volume; Maxi and the Rubíns occupy much —65→ of II and spread into III, offcentering Feijoo, who enters and virtually exits in that volume; and the introduction to Ballester is tossed off in a mere parenthesis! «Segismundo Ballester (el licenciado en Farmacia que estaba al frente de la botica de Samaniego) tenía frecuentes altercados con Maxi...» (IV, 5). Our conclusion would be right from Fortunata's point of view; after Juanito, each character has less and less impact on her. But what we are measuring now is their structural importance, and that, although interrelated with the importance of each to the protagonist, can be arrived at only after deciding what each contributes to the esthetic order which makes the novel not a document of amorous relations, but something we call an object of literary beauty.
Juanito, Maxi, Feijoo, Ballester -all love Fortunata, each in his own way, and with a passion each calls unique. It is this sustained intensity of their unique passions, more than the relative importance of each relationship of Fortunata's, which impresses. And what the author does artistically with this intensity, or, how he makes the story of Fortunata's life as related to these individuals into a unity, is the reader's total experience.
To describe this properly, we must study the elements which characterize all novels -the order of the constituent parts, use of space, time, tempo- as transformers of otherwise amorphous matter. Employed with the purpose of achieving artistic unity, these elements interact, creating the symmetries and asymmetries necessary in any composition. Ordinarily we do not perceive these symmetries in reading; they are the intangible unifiers. Indeed, their intangibility alone often causes them to be relegated to a questionable state, because the tangible unifiers -chapter headings, external form (the physical aspect of the novelistic world), the beginning-end sequence as framework, etc.- also offer considerable information about the novel's structure. But I think that the formalist and structuralist concept is more accurate; the organizational principles of any work must be sought in a deeper, or perhaps (to avoid the metaphor which implies physical depth) a more intangible area. And after investigating the various symmetrical and asymmetrical forms which aspects of Galdós' novel assume, after seeing what kinds of triangles are operative, what ways the four units can be divided into structural parts, I feel that this approach promises more information about literary structures than what use of traditional terms has offered.
In Fortunata and Jacinta, the «intangible unifiers» can perhaps be best apprehended if we allow our literary approach to include whatever non-literary stuctural types and terms seem pertinent, regardless of what discipline they belong to. Some such terms seem literary already because they have long been used metaphorically. Typical examples are adjectives borrowed from graphic art, especially painting, to describe a writer's use of words; one hears of «clean lines», «painterly language», «colorful style», to name a few. What puzzles me about such adjectives is their ability to recreate the impression caused by some aspect of a literary text, yet their failure to come to grips with the elusive —66→ problem of style: determining how and where literature and language meet, and, how style relates to the structure of a literary work.
Using literary terms where necessary as we have done until now, discussing the bird images as metaphors or metonymies, related in turn to certain artistic purposes, I would like to try at this point to relate these two motifs of Galdós' novel. The bird images form, as said, a progression; the motif is developed gradually, reaching its final expression in Volume IV. In this sense, there is a progression at work in the novel: there is a poetic unifier -the development of the bird-egg motif- which is intangible until the end, when the various images can be studied collectively.
The gradually diminishing importance of the masculine protagonist of each volume, on the other hand, suggests a diminution, not to say retrogression. The role of a structurally important figure is reduced, reaching a minimum with Ballester. What follows? The birth of the character whose name reflects the general order of the masculine protagonists. (Exact reproduction would have required that Maxi's name be included second.) Juan Evaristo Segismundo, Fortunata's child, is the figure who links the two organizational principles of the novel: he is the culmination of the bird-egg motif (as we will confirm in our analysis of Volumes III and IV), and he is a miniature reproduction of the structural order of the male protagonists. He is himself more a motif than a character-to-be.
Progression and diminution are the two main forces, and they act simultaneously, creating the structural tension of the novel. But it would be a simplification to say that they are the only two structural principles at work: there are others, subordinated to these, which may even impress the reader more vividly due to the paradoxical fact that they do not last from beginning to end and hence, may be perceived more sharply. Together with the various dividings and groupings of the volumes which the reader, engulfed in novelistic detail, can only experience as complexity or accumulation, there is the forming and unforming triangle of the already mentioned amorous relationships.
Recognition of these simultaneous orderings leads me to wonder precisely what geometrical figures constitute the structure of Fortunata and Jacinta. And could we speak of a numerical structure too?
First: there are four volumes, an even number of parts. Second: each volume opens with an introduction to its male protagonist. Third: the number of male protagonists equals the number of volumes. Apparently, there is a monolithic order: one protagonist per volume, or, 1 to 1. But as we have seen, the formula is not so simple.
The sequence of the male protagonists is something which, considered quantitatively, can be called a diminution. The gradually decreased structural importance of each successive male protagonist suggests that assigning each figure the hypothetical value of 1 would be wrong, despite the apparent correlation. It is here that non-literary structural terms and concepts become necessary to deal with the distribution of material in the novel. We have observed certain literary, or rhetorical, techniques (antitheses, use of Maxi as foil, parallelisms, etc.), but our comprehension of Galdós' use of these techniques cannot —67→ be complete unless we relate them to the non-literary principles that combine to create the total effect.
Assigning each male protagonist the hypothetical value of 4 (because there are four of them and because each, directly or indirectly, affects all four volumes) and visualizing the four volumes as a block made of four units, we could represent it as follows:
But the text does not accord the four protagonists equal space or importance, so the hypothetical figure does not indicate the real design; it merely indicates, as the systematic openings do, that each character might have been equal in importance to the others. The authors' scheme allows for this hypothesis.
Since what we find is different, the total, 16, must be divided into numbers representing the relative importance of each character. The other significant number being 2 (the subtitle, the various pairs mentioned), we could try combinations totalling 16 based on this number. The one which represents the various structural aspects most accurately is: 7-5-3-1. A step-by-step statement of the novel's structure would be as follows:
What the diagram does not offer is a mathematically accurate correlation, but in approximating the relative importance of the four protagonists and suggesting a numerical treatment of the other structural aspects, it does provide a way to study the order of the various structural parts of the novel. Let us look at them in closer detail and examine the possibilities of relating this numerical statement to our analysis of the bird imagery.
Numbers, like words, can express what one wishes depending on how they are combined, or put more technically, depending on what mathematical operations are performed. Concrete poetry is based on such flexibility; letters are often treated as numbers. What I would like to do now is to explore simple operations that are possible with the numbers of our diagram so as to represent the structural features we have been discussing. The diminution is 7-5-3-1. The pairing of volumes suggested by the introductory motif, I-II and III-IV, would be 7-5 and 3-1. The «average» value of each of these pairs would be 6 and 2, respectively, for the total of the first pair is 12 and that of the second, 4. These —68→ figures, 6 and 2, represent the average structural importance of each male protagonist when regarded as a member of paired volumes. So up until now, numbers are adequate, though naturally not accurate, for we are dealing with quantities whose measurements can only be approximated.
How about the bird motif -does it fit into this numerical scheme? Yes. Curiously, it is the averages arrived at that link the introductory motif to the bird motif. In keeping with the abundance versus scarcity of the bird imagery in I-IV and II-III respectively, we find that the averages for the introductory motif, 6 and 2, are also those of the importance of the bird motif as considered in the two pairs I-IV and II-III. According to this, the numerical distribution for the bird motif is 6-2-2-6, which also totals 16.
The weakness of the numerical order proposed becomes evident when we try to designate a progression. The abundance and scarcity of the bird motif can be adequately abbreviated as 6-2-2-6, but the growing complexity of the motif is not so easy to measure. The metaphorical transformations mentioned are at once a recurrence and a development of the motif, and as such, gain in value. «Motif», by definition, is an increasingly meaningful unit. In a word, we may measure the presence, but not the power, of the motif.
What the various numerical orders yield is a symbolic statement of the harmonies of a work which would be difficult to synthesize otherwise. What they prove is that a novelistic structure can be restated in another medium. What this implies is that those harmonies were perhaps mathematical in nature to begin with: that an author's use of language in a literary creation may draw unconsciously on non-verbal orders which may influence the creation of artistic works and their structures. The problem -or process- is certainly not transparent, but precisely because it is so elusive, it fascinates. In the novels of Galdós, where one finds a prodigiously real world, and artistic constructions seem absent for that very reason, the question is open.
But limiting ourselves to the specific task of describing the numerical relations in Galdós' masterpiece, let us continue. The «averages», it was seen, turn out to be the same for both sets of paired volumes. The next step is to determine whether those averages have any other structural connections. Surprisingly, they return us to the original number: 4. The only even number that fits between the paired sets created by the two motifs is 4:
Further elaboration on the two significant numbers, 4 and 2112, is probably possible and would perhaps enrich our perception of the many symmetries, harmonies, contrasts and uniting principles which Fortunata and Jacinta contains. —69→ Galdós himself was apparently more concerned with this esthetic aspect than is generally thought; the manuscript of his novel has a number of tiny, complex architectural designs in the margins, and one striking feature in some is their symmetrical detail.
Returning now to our analysis of the bird motif, abandoned some pages ago, let us integrate it with the introductory motif and put the two in perspective.
Following the trend begun late in Volume I, references to birds in Volume II are more often metaphorical than metonymical; but both types of comparison are used, and there are a number of similes as well. In the background of Volume II is the male protagonist's aunt, Doña Lupe, or «la de los pavos» («the turkey woman») as she is called; she lives in a neighborhood called «Pajaritos». Maxi himself is compared to a bird in various ways:
1) Usaba de su escasa memoria como de un ave de cetrería para cazar las ideas; pero el halcón se le marchaba a lo mejor, dejándole con la boca abierta y mirando al cielo.
2) Agradábale más vagar solo [...], figurándose realidades y volando sin tropiezo por los espacios de lo posible.
3) «Pero ¿y si no me quiere? -pensaba [Maxi], desanimándose y cayendo a tierra con las alas rotas.
4) Al quitarse el chaleco salían de las bocamangas los hombros como alones de un ave flaca.
Features of two of these images recur in Volume III, but are applied to Fortunata. The flight of thought (2) and the falling sensation caused by a sudden realization (3) which she experiences on different occasions are described as follows:
A veces, esta brusca revuelta [de su espíritu] dependía de una palabra, de una idea caprichosa que pasaba volando por su espíritu como pasa un pájaro fugaz por la inmensidad del cielo.
Ver el portal fue para la prójima [Fortunata], como para el pájaro que ciego y disparado vuela, topar violentamente contra un muro.
Taken in context, these minor parallels of style suggest how much love matters to both Fortunata and Maxi, whose romantic flights and falls lift them to the sublime but also plunge them into the misery bound to occur in great passions. In Maxi and Fortunata, the desire to live a great love forever is seen in all its temptation and danger; each longs for exactly the same thing, but the cruel irony is that they can neither share it nor find the emotional compromise that would save his sanity and her life; they are characters victimized because constituted of unfulfilled love.
Less relevant examples of bird imagery in Volume II could be included, but listing them would not contribute anything essential to our analysis; so deleting the metaphors and similes that are either marginal or built into language, we may consider the relevant ones in Volume III.—70→
Feijoo, who occupies relatively few pages, hardly figures in the pattern of bird imagery. The metaphor of the tertulia groups as a flock going from one café to another is the only association worth mentioning. A paltry case, it seems, until we measure the prolongation of Feijoo in his second role, that of mediator arranging the reconciliation of Fortunata with the Rubín family, thus sending her back to the «Calle del Ave María». Perhaps the absence of this character from the bird imagery is yet another way to insure his autonomy and aura of discretion which the author respects.
Careful preparation of Fortunata for reintegration into the Rubín family is Feijoo's main structural function. In keeping with the bird metaphors, we could say that Feijoo «clips Fortunata's wings». Like the author, he consciously directs her, shaping her future. (The Rubíns do this too, but for personal reasons -to adjust her to their ways, whereas Feijoo schools her for a world alien to his own.) What distinguishes Feijoo's «development» of Fortunata from the author's is that the former wants to fit her into a panorama of specific social and moral dimensions whereas the latter, joining forces with Feijoo, must also fit her into his larger novelistic scheme. Witnessing the creation of a character -a literary character and a social person- carried out by the author and another character together, the reader becomes intensely aware of Fortunata's dynamism.
When she has been reschooled for the Rubíns, Fortunata resigns herself to expect an inspid-but-at-least-correct social status, economic security, decency, and, not the least in this admixture of acquisitions, vague comfort from Feijoo's suggestion -that she have children.
Three images of Fortunata, all related to the bird motif, accompany her return to being Señora Rubín, the beginning of the end. All three images are pejorative and reflect not so much Fortunata's essence as the consequences of her irremediable love for Juanito. By picturing the moral and social negativity of her unsanctioned love (which causes everyone in the novel including herself to suffer in some degree), the images prepare the way for her final exclusion from the world of the Santa Cruzes, the author's original and final center of attention.
Two of the images relate back to the snake-rooster theme in Volume I, when Jacinta's jealousy caused the Ido-snake metaphor. By now, Jacinta's suspicions are excruciating certainties:
Retorciendo en su corazón la cuerda con que a sí propia se ahogaba, se decía: -[...] aquí mismo me pondría a dar chillidos, si no temiera escandalizar.
As in Volume I, the image captures her feelings, and when the occasion calls for it later on the metaphor will be transferred (again, by the narrator) to the individual she blames: Fortunata. When the two women meet, Fortunata literally assaults Jacinta, and their meeting is described as an attack of beast (F) on prey (J). When Fortunata identifies herself to Jacinta, the latter's reaction is:
Jacinta se quedó sin habla... Después lanzó un ¡ay! agudísimo, como la persona que recibe la picada de una víbora.
The same transformation rope → snake is presented, and other animal metaphors compound the effect; Fortunata is compared to a «perro de presa», a «fiera». —71→ What is interesting is the change in the narrator's point of view; until now his sympathies have been with both women, but here he clearly sides with Jacinta. The compassion which she felt in Sevilla for the victim Fortunata, the narrator now feels for Jacinta as she is threatened by Fortunata's ferocity. In creating more emotional distance from Fortunata, the narrator awakens more sympathy for Jacinta's feelings.
The third image is introduced in the middle of Volume III and repeated many times in Volume IV. Fortunata is called a «pájara» (III, 147) by Feijoo's servant doña Paca, and by doña Lupe. This derogatory bird image sets the tone for the last volume, where Fortunata is alternately insulted and exalted as the fact of her pregnancy becomes known, eliciting critisms from everyone except Ballester, whose exaltation of her stands out, thus counterpointing at the end of the novel the two figures she is: the character judged by moral standards and the new literary heroine created by Galdós.
Opening the final volume, the reader is confronted by the fusion of the bird and introductory motifs; the first chapter is titled «En la Calle del Ave María», thus alluding to birds in a spiritual way, and the first words are Segismundo Ballester, the name of the male protagonist of this volume. His romantic role, as commented earlier, is minimal; his structural importance, though, is considerable, for it is he who consecrates Fortunata as a literary type at the end of the novel.
The presence and power of the bird motif is great. Sometimes it operates obliquely, so its impact is not always as direct as in Volume I, where the literary quality of the bird images is more distinct. In this volume, meanings are more complex; not only are they symbolic, they also evoke earlier uses of the motif, so we are dealing with kinds of meaning as well as accumulation of meaning.
The first example of bird imagery in IV is oblique and it points to one of the two extremes between which the images of Fortunata fluctuate in this volume: the angelic and the demonic. Maxi and Ballester, characters convinced of her innate good, deliver images of her as a spiritual bird, an angel; the others, voices of social order and morality (which is sometimes sincere, but at times hypocritical), associate her with a «pájara». The schism is not clear until the end because the various images are set in clusters of circumstances that draw attention to other features. Let us examine the first extreme, the angelic.
Maxi tells Fortunata of his soporific vision, induced by morphine:
[...] en aquel sopor se me apareció un ángel y me dijo, dice: 'José, no tengas celos, que si tu mujer está encinta, es por obra del Pensamiento puro...' ¿Ves qué disparates?
In his delirium be becomes Joseph, and Fortunata, Mary. The chapter title begins to echo. Throughout his madness, visions like this obsess him, and in their pathetic redressing of reality, remined one of his plight: his inability to have a child with Fortunata, his suppressed rage and most of all, his incurable love, which despite all transforms her into nothing less than the Virgin Mary. —72→ Maternity, birth, passionate love, the sense of an impending event -these are the themes that surface in his tortured exclamations.
At the other extreme, events are interpreted morally, by images alluding to the loneliness, corruption and death of love that mark the last volume.
Situating these two currents of imagery in relation to preceding images, we see that depending on how one reacts to the novel, one or the other current seems more adequate as a poetic expression of the story. Neither current can be called «right»; they are obviously complementary, as the moral and the esthetic are in all works of art; in their coexistence, the depreciatory and laudatory images depict Fortunata's fate in her world, governed by social and moral mores, as well as her survival in art, where she is measured by other standards.
Interestingly, Galdós reincorporates the egg-bird motif in the negative current of images, although it is hardly recognizable when compared to the dramatic scene of Volume I. Aurora de Fenelón, one of the Samaniego daughters, makes friends with Fortunata, who is entirely unaware of Aurora's relationship with Juanito. Aurora,
On other occasions, she again offers Fortunata a candied egg yolk: the motif in disguise. The incident in itself is not significant, but when put together with other atmospheric details that contrast pointedly with those of Volume I, it acquires meaning. Corruption has replaced candor, and Aurora's rather sordid affair has replaced Fortunata's gigantic love. The externals -the candied yolks, the elegant millinery shop of French imports where Aurora works- contrast vividly with the raw egg and cracked shell, the poultry shop -the homely things that could be idealized in Juanito's mind because of his love for Fortunata.
Connected with this is the «poisoned yolk» that Ballester wants to give to Olimpia's (one of the Samaniego sisters) fiancé. Fortunata refuses to take part in the stunt, which turns out to be a joke inside a joke; Ballester is naturally incapable of such cowardliness, as his later defense of Fortunata emphasizes.
The author's irony shows in numerous ways in these pages, and one of them gathers force as the end is approached. Names and name-calling are not, he seems to suggest, so far apart. When Aurora and Fortunata confide details about Juanito, they are referred to as «the Fenélon widow» and «Mrs. Rubín» respectively, and indeed, whenever their acts diverge from those properly implied by their names, he makes a point of «calling them» by their names.
Perhaps the strongest concentration of the bird motif is in the references to the doctor who assists Fortunata, don Francisco de Quevedo, and his wife doña Petra, alias doña Desdemona. Use of name for these characters is more than ironic, emblematic; in naming the doctor after a famous writer, Galdós evidently wished to suggest something; the coincidence is hardly accidental. —73→ Exactly what he intended I do not know, but the caricature, at least, seems clear. His wife, keeper of a multitude of birds, is also presented in thick, quick strokes.
Together the Quevedos recall various aspects of the main characters: they are a childless couple, like Jacinta and Juanito; Quevedo suffered jealous rages similar to Maxi's, we are told; Doña Desdemona is characterized (as Fortunata was in Volume I) by her activity with birds. If these coincidences had been introduced more casually or lost among numerous attributes, thus making these irrelevant, the comparisons probably would not come to mind, but as it is, the Quevedo couple is described as a composite of these attributes only, and they reside among birds.
When Maxi's madness frightens his aunt enough for her to claim that Fortunata is dead, he embarks on his private search for her, basing all his conclusions on strictly logical observations. First he ascertains that she is alive; next he gathers facts pointing to her condition and whereabouts. At this point, the Quevedo birds begin to play an openly symbolic role: they represent Fortunata and other characters in communications between doña Desdemona and doña Lupe, who is anxious to know of the birth but determined to keep the news from Maxi for fear of completely deranging him and provoking him to violence. What the two women never dreamed could happen, happens: Maxi knows all about it; their «bird language» merely reveals the truth symbolically rather than literally:
-Querido -dijo a Rubín la dama esférica, tocándole amistosamente en el hombro-. Hágame el favor de decirle a Lupe que la pájara mala sacó pollo esta mañana..., un un polluelo hermosísimo..., con toda felicidad...
To the reader, «la pájara mala» is plainly Fortunata; as remarked earlier, the expression is applied to her (and only her) often in this volume. What interests is not the choice of symbol, but the development of a motif to the point where it can symbolize the social negativity of Fortunata. Her other dimension, greatness as a literary character (who in turn symbolizes love), is also captured by the bird motif, by the exalted references to her as an angel.
In light of these meanings suggested by the use of the motif, we may say that the bird references describe the character Fortunata as she was originally, as her conduct has determined her social image, and as she is finally idealized into a heroine. It would be tedious and I believe unnecessary at this point to list all the examples; having established their importance in the estructure, we know what we need to know about them. What impresses is the interrelationship of the images -the naturalist, the romantic, the symbolic, the purely poetic (angel); their ability to condense the complexities of art and life; their recreation of the whole in simpler terms.
By restoring naturalist bird images in the last volume, the author kindles in the reader's memory that first view of Fortunata as a bird-like creature herself, with no meanings implied. Nursing her cherished newborn son, she ruminates on her «idea», as it was called throughout Volume III:
Esta es mi idea, la idea que vengo criando aquí desde hace tantísimo tiempo, empollándola hasta que ha salido, como sale el pajarito del cascarón...
And as the baby is lulled to sleep, the narrator again fuses with the sensibilities of the character he is describing:
y cuando éste [su hijo] se dormía, continuaba rezongando como la pájara en el nido.
Later, when she abandons the child in a fit of fury to attack Aurora, whom she has learned is Juanito's lover, critical nuances again seep into the bird images; not harshly, because it is doña Guillermina who is speaking, but nevertheless there is a change. She informs Ballester:
-¿Viene usted a esta casa? -le dijo la dama-. Pues tómelo con paciencia, que el pájaro voló. La señora esa se ha ido a la calle.
Ironically, Fortunata is reproached when she has flown to the defense of Jacinta. Her own jealousy is one motive, but at this point in the story she identifies more as mother of the Santa Cruz child than as Fortunata, Juanito's lover. Their relationship has been over for a long time, and with the birth of their child, she feels fulfilled; now she can hope that some part of her will be attached to Juanito forever, and in offering the child to the Santa Cruz family, she begins to regard Jacinta as a sublimation of herself; Jacinta is the only mother a Santa Cruz child could have, she realizes, and she both sympathizes with Jacinta's desire for a child and respects her.
With a successor, the Santa Cruz family acquires the promise of a future equal to the vitality of its past; the historical background in Volume I becomes the foundation it was originally conceived to be, but temporarily thwarted by the childless marriage. Building, creating, procreating: the concern takes many forms in the novel, starting from the more literal ones introduced in Volume I (the Santa Cruz and Arnaiz businesses, Guillermina's orphanage) to the more metaphorical ones in the middle volumes (the physical development of Maxi, the reformation of Fortunata, her social education by Feijoo), to the ultimate ones in the last volume (doña Lupe's efforts to create «un modelo de mujeres casadas», IV, 48) and finally, the esthetic achievement of the novelistic structure itself, a result of the procreational tension which characterizes this longest novel of a very prolific author.
Unity and procreativity then, are the forces that mark the novel, even during the last volume, which is impregnated with despair, death and corruption. Events which we have not considered in order to avoid lengthening our inquiry further -the deaths of Feijoo and Mauricia, Moreno Isla's impossible love and his consequent death- work into the larger scheme of the novel. But commentary on these events would not alter the idea of novelistic structure which I have proposed in this essay, where I have explored the structural role of what I consider to be the two main motifs of Fortunata y Jacinta.
Arriving at a view of the structure of this vast novel is not, I have tried to show, a unique moment. The many kinds of order in the work encourage quite different, yet valid perceptions of the novel's structure, whose complexity can perhaps be totally grasped only by parts, one of which I have offered here.