First Love Analysis

The most reoccurring themes in this First Love by Emilia Pardo-Bazan seem to be rituals and infatuation with the physical. The definition of the word ritual is an established or prescribed procedure for a religious or other rite. In other words a ritual is something that a person does as a practice for religious purposes or for any other reason, something that is a practice that happens often. In this story both the Aunt and the boy have rituals. The Aunt’s ritual was to perform her evening devotions at the church she attends every evening. Her nephew’s ritual was to rummage through her drawer and look at this painting he had fallen in love with. It may seem slightly odd but these are things that these people have made a point to do on a daily basis.  Along with the boy’s ritual to go through his aunt’s drawer, he develops and infatuation with a painting of a young woman found in his Aunt’s drawer.  

In the story we learn that the boy created a whole personality for this young woman in a painting, and was so obsessed with it. This may seem peculiar however; boys today do the same thing. Young boys in their adolescent years tend to find a picture of a girl and be infatuated with this image that seems perfect to them.  At around twelve and thirteen boys seem to want this perfect girl. Often they would take pleasure in looking at models in swimsuits or even celebrities that dress sensually. It is not uncommon to find boys at this age with posters on their wall of women who are posing in a sensual fashion, with little to no clothing. If there are no posters there may be magazines that they are hiding. This is idea is proven in the First Love, when the boy finds the picture the author goes into detail about what the young woman in the painting is wearing “. . .for from her waist (which began at her armpits) upwards, she was only veiled by light folds of diaphanous gauze, which marked out, rather than covered, two mountains of snow, between which meandered a thread of pearls” (5).  Boys at this age normally like older girls. This could be because older women have already been through puberty and are developed into something that adolescent boys have an eye for. This idea is exemplified in the short story by Pardo-Bazan when the young boy goes to play with girls his age and one of them gives him a flower. He gets mad and throws it at her. Is this because he felt like he was afraid of “cheating” on the painting? Or was this because the painting was simply more attractive to him because the woman in the painting was 23 years old?

The time period when this story was written helps with the analysis of the story. During this time the Romantic Period ended and the Realism period began. People began to reveal more of their bodies, and writers began to be more descriptive of the person whothey were writing about. Maybe Emilia Pardo-Bazan was just going with the flow of the way people were writing in that time period. It is possible that the boy being in this story is merley a coincidence. In the end, two themes are most dominant; infatuation with the physical aspect of someone and the rituals that both the boy and his aunt had.

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