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La fuerza de la sangre

This novela, which is one of the shortest of the collection, raises more questions for what it does not say than for what it does. A young woman, Leocadia, is abducted and raped (a narrative impulse which Cervantes uses a great deal throughout his fiction). The rapist is her social superior and she stands no chance of legal or other redress. She gives birth to a son who is later run over by a horse. Among those who attend to the injured boy are the parents of the rapist, his grandparents. The family resemblance causes the full facts to be revealed, the rapist is summoned back from Italy, falls in love with the woman he has wronged and marries her.

The conventional structure of this novela, with its characteristic move from harmony to discord back to harmony, is called into question by a number of striking features of the text: the extraordinary violence of the initial abduction and rape and the heartlessness of the rapist’s treatment of his victim; and the complete absence of any attempt by society or his parents to call him to account when the truth is revealed. The striking absence of any element of remorse or retribution in the conclusion of the story has been highlighted by Barry Ife and Trudi Darby in their study of the novela [see relevant publications: ‘Remorse, Retribution and Redemption in La fuerza de la sangre: Spanish and English Perspectives’ and ‘Pilgrims’ Progress: insinuaciones de la alegoría en el Persiles y Sigismunda de Cervantes’]

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