Free Puente Viejo Essay Sample
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This is a story of an isolated town, Puente Viejo, where hearsay and backbiting make the people blind to a deadly plight under a military government. The significance of this theme is that people waste a lot of energy prying in to private lives while no one cares to look in to the real problems. I will examine the townspeople’s preoccupation with the alleged affair between the French woman and the strange boy in relation to the shock they get at the final discovery of the murderous dealings of the strange boy. The town is located away from the big towns and its residents have adopted a simple and probably a boring lifestyle therefore they preoccupy themselves with pieces of gossip. Puente Viejo is possibly inhabited by very few residents as this is best illustrated by the fact that it was possible to recognize any stranger and that’s why at first, the young strange boy was mistaken for a camper headed south of the town.
The people of the town are only interested in the young man due to his relationship to the barber’s wife, the French woman. They even anticipated his meeting her, as seen through the perspective of the narrator after he asked to be directed to a barber. The narrator directed the boy to Cervino’s barber shop, anticipating witnessing how the French woman’s seductive powers would impact the boy. It may look like a surprise coincidence that as soon as the strange boy enters the barber shop, the French woman appears. It is not clear why she was regarded as a French woman as nobody seems to know clearly her origins and name. The townspeople, however, feed their curiosity from the attributes of a loose woman she has. Although it is not clear whether she was truly French, its worthy nothing that she exhibited some characteristics stereotypically French. These include flaunting so much sexism and romance by not wearing a bra and also by not wearing anything inside her blouse during the winter. She used also to wear blouses with very low neckline.
Cerviño, the French woman’s husband, also presents a spectre which preoccupies the town, that is, his competition against old Melchor, in the hair cutting business. Cerviño comes across as very keen and serious business man having qualified with a diploma in hairdressing and possessing all the modern tools required for such work and always had the latest sports magazine, probably all what he required to attract the men of this bored town. This, in addition to his beautiful and flirty wife, seemed to make him snatch many clients from his sole competitor, the old Melchor. This will later make Melchor change tact by acquiring the first color T.V in the town and stocking his shop with pornographic magazines probably to attract back his clients, who were flocking to Cerviño’s new barber shop. This, in addition to propaganda against his competitor, seemed to work in Melchor’s favor.
The gossip which almost everyone in the town relished was that the French woman appeared to have smitten the strange boy so much that he used to visit Cerviño’s shop frequently in the pretext of reading the papers. This was to be followed of gossips of romantic involvement between the two either by been seen together naked at the beach or making love at the boy’s tent. It seems strange that in all this, the husband never seems to realize that something was happening between his wife and the strange boy and if he did, he didn’t seem to care much. By focusing on the romantic hearsay accounts, the people conclude that the boy had stayed in town to just be with the woman.
Then suddenly, the one day the French woman and the strange boy disappeared from the town and speculation arose that the duo may have escaped from town to continue with their love affair. People didn’t seem to get convinced by Cerviño’s explanation that his wife had gone to nurse her sick father. In fact, the townspeople were disappointed when Cervino told them his wife was attending her sick father in another town. People even to speculate that maybe even Cerviño might have murdered the duo after discovering the affair. This created a hostile backlash from some of the residents with even women forbidding their children to play near his shop and urging their husbands to get their cut at Melchor’s.
One particular woman, Espinosa’s widow whose house was near the strange boy’s tent, was particularly concerned and even began to insinuate that there was a killer in that town and even calling for the arrest of Cerviño by the inspector of police. She would eventually lead the community and the inspector of police to the discovery of buried mutilated human torsos some riddled with bullets. What’s clear is that there must have been recent mass murders and the French woman was not one of those as she later appeared.
Going by the unfolding events, it is clear that there was a bigger scheme which was going on since the arrival of the strange boy. It is very likely that he was responsible for the murders considering that they seemed to have happened at the time he was around and that the mutilated bodies were buried near his tent. He seemed to have been sent as a mercenary by the military government to eliminate the people whose bodies were discovered. The military is portrayed as very dictatorial, going even to the extent of banning pornography magazines.
This is why the inspector of police had to seek instructions from his seniors when he discovered the dead bodies. By ordering that the bodies be buried again and that nobody was to talk about it, it becomes clear that the killings were a government operation. He even intimidates those present by recording their names. It seems the government, as characteristic of dictatorial rule, used to run the country by killing those who didn’t agree with its policies and the story of Puente Viejo is used to highlight how the situation was in the whole country.
The people of Puente Viejo spent a lot of time gossiping about the private affair between the strange boy and the French woman while knowing little of the deadly operation the boy was conducting. The entire town thought he stayed because of the French woman and this served as a good disguise as he killed people under the orders of the government, being a mercenary. It is the same belief in hearsay that leads the townspeople to a search of the bodies of the French woman and the strange boy, believing that they were killed by Cervino. It turns out that mass murder had been happening so close to them without their knowing.
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