Wait a minute...do you realize that you're in the last required text in this course? You're almost done! 🌟
The short story by Rosa Montero, written in 1982, puts you in the driver’s seat during a morning traffic jam in an anonymous city. Written in the second person, the story pulls you into the stress of fifteen intensely lived minutes as the narrator’s car advances through a mostly hostile environment toward a hard-earned parking spot.
The story begins with our main character finding herself in really bad traffic. She is very critical of the other drivers around her, and just generally frustrated with her situation as she insults everyone under her breath. She finally manages to find a parking spot thanks to a nearby middle-aged man, and she thanks him. He is as anxious as the narrator about the hectic environment around him, and is taken back by her unexpected gratitude.
After the death of Francisco Franco in 1975, Spain underwent a significant political and cultural transformation. With the transition to democracy, contemporary Spanish literature began to reflect the newfound freedoms and the desire to explore diverse themes. Writers embraced democracy, free expression, and regionalism as central themes in their works, using literature as a medium to engage with and reflect on the changes taking place in Spanish society.
This sparked the creation of many politically themed works, centered around the political instability in Spain at the time. These themes continue to be relevant in Spanish literature, as writers engage with the evolving challenges and opportunities of a dynamic and democratic society.
In contemporary Spanish literature, there has been a noticeable shift towards the use of non-linear narratives, fragmented structures, and multiple voices. These literary techniques have become prominent means of expression for writers, allowing them to explore complex themes and reflect the diverse realities of modern society.
During the same time period, contemporary Spanish literature also witnessed a significant rise in feminine literature, which focused on the experiences, perspectives, and challenges faced by women in Spanish society. This literary movement, often referred to as feminist or feminine literature, sought to give voice to women's issues, promote gender equality, and challenge traditional gender roles and stereotypes. Female authors played a pivotal role in this movement, contributing to a more inclusive and diverse literary landscape. Many such works by female authors also critiqued the society around them, this being one example.
Rosa Montero was born in Madrid, Spain, in 1951. She began writing as a child and studied journalism and psychology. In 1976, she began working in the newspaper El País. She published her first book in 1979 called "La Crónica del Desamor" (The Chronicle of Heartbreak).
Rosa Montero circa 2014. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
🚦El Titulo: The title, which literally translates to “Like life itself”, reflects the dullness of everyday life through the traffic jam.
⌚ Genre - Cronica Narrativa: This piece is a cronica narrativa, in which events are narrated to the reader in the order they happened.
By having the whole story happen in just a short span of 15 minutes, Montero warps the reader's sense of space and time. The reader is also made to psychologically enter the narrator's space by being made to feel everything the narrator is feeling.
This whole story revolves around a traffic jam that is preventing the protagonist from getting where she needs to, and is negatively impacting her mood. By writing the story in second person, Montero makes the reader the individual that is getting frustrated by the slow-moving cars around her.
Hyperbole: "Doscientos mil coches junto al tuyo." - “"Two hundred thousand cars next to yours."
Irony & Exclamations: 'Demuestra agresividad y al fin dice, "¿Por qué es tan agresiva la gente? ¡No lo entiendo!"' - 'He shows aggression and finally says, "Why are people so aggressive? I don't understand!"'
The use of irony here shows the hypocrisy of human beings in how they act towards others but the treatment they expect, and provides insight into the daily life of people as they go about their day.
There is also the general irony throughout the story surrounding its subject: Humans are experiencing all of these feelings because of the technology that they created to make their own lives easier.
The exclamations show the frustration of everyone at the frustrating situation they are stuck in, and can't do anything about. They convey simultaneous tones of hopelessness and anger.
Imagery: "Semáforo en rojo, un rojo inconfundible " - "Red traffic light, an unmistakable red"
Having been written in second person, this piece is meant to make the reader feel the pain and frustration of being stuck in traffic and not being able to go anywhere. This use of imagery helps serve that purpose by slowing down the story even further with mindless details, giving the reader a sense of being distracted by mindless details as they wait for the traffic around them to move forward.
This piece is a reflection of the dullness of modern life, portrayed through a seemingly never-ending traffic jam. By warping time and space to insert her readers into her stories, Montero's writing has made her a powerful voice in contemporary Spanish culture.