The Virgin by Kerima Polotan Tuvera

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The Virgin by Kerima Polotan
The title of Kerima Polotan's "The Virgin" gives us the subject-virginity, female virginity, a cherished value of Filipino Male culture. By presenting its protagonist as "victim" rather than heroine of this value system, the text subverts it. Reflecting on her virginal state, Miss Mijares does so "with a mixture of shame and bitterness and guilt"

The story's eroticism is heightened by the lyrical, almost cadenced language. (The eroticism is quite explicit for it's time, and the foregrounding of a woman's sexulity is also rather in advance of its time.) But the use of symbolism is a bit too obvious--the paperweight, the dream of being lost, the jeepney's detour, the storm.

Miss Mijares is a dutiful daughter, sacrificing herself, in this case, for a sick mother, and becoming a spinster, a pathetic figure, her sternness of manner and abruptness of speech, disguise for an aching loneliness. Referring to her as "Miss Mijares" underlines her primmness, as well as her distance from the carpenter. She is slim and frail-looking, which contrasts with the carpenter's physical streghth and size.

The carpenter has a certain grace, poise, confidence "walking with an economy of movement, graveful and light, a man who knew his body and used it well", which comes from being easy in his skin, which Miss Mijares, decidedly, is not.

Miss Mijares' over reaction to the discovery that the carpenter has fathered a child by a woman he is not married to reveals the extent of her acquiescence to the system--moral, social, etc. Discovering that he has "feet of clay," she suddenly notices everything else that is wrong with him--his stupid grin, his defective teeth.

In capitulating to her desire and her loneliness, does Miss Mijares triumped over the system in which she is trapped? The language would suggest that this is not so: note the pathos of the…...

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