Lit React ~ Analysis & reactions on works of fiction.

24 Feb 2012

(Short Story) Desire by: Paz Latorena

(Reaction) Half full or Half empty? by: Teacher Kitty

Latorena's female character resound a cry for women to be loved for who they are and not for their bodies. The protagonist is a product of nature's irony giving her a homely face and a body of absolute beauty, "Hers was a body men would gladly have gone to hell for." She struggles to be accepted and "be loved as other women were loved".

It would be easy to identify this woman as a victim since "men look at her with unbeautiful light in their eyes---married eyes, single eyes". This unfair treatment moved her into rebellion of intentionally disfiguring herself behind long and wide dresses to hide her body from the eyes of men until all they had left was "pity for a homely face and a shapeless mass of flesh". It pleased her for a while but was soon replaced by feelings of isolation because "she was a woman and she wanted to be loved and to love".

However, I think that women shouldn't feel like victims of their reality. The protagonist may have thought that hiding her body was her rebellion but I think that she couldn't accept who she is or what she has since it didn't really make her happy. She wanted more from life but she couldn't really get anything more from it as she chose writing as companion for her lonely nights over real, live people.

Through these published little lyrics and sketches her heart spoke of her dreams, longings, and bitterness for she was "one who sees all the weaknesses and stupidities of men". With these kinds of thoughts we could see that she has little sense of humor for men's faults. She sees "all faults" and none of the good things. She blames the world for what it cannot give her but she doesn't make any effort to extend herself either. She made no attempts to make friends even with women. She didn't see her own fault for being in the lonely situation she was in.

Luck struck when she met with a fan of her writing. They met again repeatedly. He liked her, for she was a good company, doesn't care much for convention and he found her very interesting. With this, "pleasant thoughts began to fill her mind. Had she at last found someone who liked her sincerely?" The thought of being considered as a friend who understood him made her happy for it was nothing like she had experienced before.

Knowing that he was fond of everything beautiful, she began to fixate about showing him that "she was not entirely devoid of beauty". She told herself that his aesthetic would be pleased but the value of their friendship will remain because he learned to like her for who she is despite her homeliness. So she decided to let her shapely dresses out of the old trunk. But I think that behind these "friendly" thoughts, she was hoping for more attention since the idea of showing him what she's got "simply obsessed her". I don't think a woman with platonic intentions towards a man would be so obsessed to show her beauty. This woman craved compliments, attention or even admiration that's why she was so fixated about it.

He complimented her beauty on the first night that he saw her hidden beauty and since he quickly changed the course of conversation, she started contemplate that "she had found a man to whom her body mattered little if anything at all." She felt safer and believed "he had learned to like her for herself" But she has forgotten the truth that he already esteemed her even before meeting her. She was so conscious about him liking her for herself but she couldn't even come to terms with herself. It's as if her value lies in what other people or this man in particular thought of her.

She did not feel the need to hide her body anymore and so she chose to continue showing her figure through another shapely dress when they met again. "His eyes lighted up when they rested on her, but whether it was the unbeautiful light that she dreaded so much, she could not determine for it quickly disappeared. No, it could not be the unbeautiful light. He liked her for herself. This belief she treasured fondly." Here we can see that she's choosing not to take offense at him because she's hoping for acceptance.

I think that the fact that she can choose not to take offense from this man means she's also capable of not taking offense from the people around her and therefore choose not to be lonely by making friends and acquaintances since her isolation was self imposed. All she needed was to make a choice. If she chose to be alone and hide a part of herself then she can also choose to get out of it.

It didn't take long for her to find fault in this new friend as she "found him staring at her...at her body" during chapel visit out in the country. But what really shook her dreams and left it in shambles was his confession: "I love...your body". He apologized when he noticed the pain inflicted but she has raised her walls almost instantly saying, "For what? You have just been yourself...like other men."

Again, she had chosen to be the victim and take offense not considering that this friend is from a different culture. He was "a man with white blood in his veins". Perhaps in his country it wasn't a crime to be brutally honest or be vocal with their thoughts. I would also consider the fact that he was already comfortable with her and "she didn't care much for convention" anyway. But alas, it was of no use. She doesn't want to think of anything but her pain even if he tried to reconcile.

If there's something this woman greatly lacked, it wasn't physical beauty but intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. She couldn't entirely accept herself and she wallowed for years. She couldn't forgive people who hurt her feelings. She couldn't forgive her friend even if he had but one mistake. Considering his feelings or position was out of the picture. It was just her pain that mattered. She felt violated and that was it. There was no redemption for any man. In the end, it was the woman who turned her back to a chance at friendship.

Review:

As a woman I sympathize with the protagonist in a sense that I also find it unacceptable for men or society to see women as sexual objects. However, I think that it's also wrong to generalize men as evil just because they admire physical beauty even if some of them may have the tendency to inappropriately ogle women. I just can't find the reason to put one man's fault to another.

I think that it's also helpful that more and more women embrace themselves for who they are regardless of their color, shape or sizes because these women create a venue for self acceptance. It's just a matter of choice whether to join the club or to wallow and blame the world for what you don't have since it's inevitable to have some flaws. Whether a person opts to see a half empty or half full cup is ultimately their choice.

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