The Story Not Told: Sex and Marriage in Pardo Bazán's "Los cirineos" and "La argolla"

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This article examines how narrative strategies of indirection employed in “Los cirineos” and “La argolla” engage the reader’s ethical participation in examining and questioning societal norms concerning sex and marriage. In “Los cirineos,” the opposition between the moral and the immoral is broken down by the presence of what Shlomith Rimmon Kenan has called “doubly-directed clues,” resulting in mutually exclusive readings of the text that exemplify C. Namwali Serpell’s concept of oscillating narration. In “La argolla,” the sexual content of a proposition is suggested rather than stated due to what Robyn Warhol has defined as its “antinarratable” nature, but it is revealed through what Gerald Prince has called “disnarrated” statements of negative possibility. In addition, the ultimate triumph of honor over dishonor in “La argolla” is undercut by a chain of associations linking the plural definition of words. In both of these short stories, the reader is obligated to mentally construct what is left untold, and in the process, is encouraged to explore beyond the limits of society’s fixed standards.


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