Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Date of this Version

April 2007


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Major: Modern Languages and Literatures (Spanish)
Under the Supervision of Professors Harriet Turner and Catherine Nickel
Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2007
Copyright 2007 Guiomar C. Fages.


This dissertation examines different models of motherhood as represented in major modern novels, taking the late Nineteenth century as a point of departure and concluding with the period known as the “Transición” that followed the dictatorial regime of Francisco Franco (1939-75). This study emphasizes the novels published during and after the Francoist regime.

The current study examines how the role of the mother evolved as various historical, political, and societal changes occurred in Spain. Although, as a general rule, novels often reflect the dominant ideologies of the patriarchal society in which they are written, each of these novels subverts the idealized image of the traditional Spanish mother.

This subversion is less obvious in Los pazos de Ulloa (1886) by Emilia Pardo Bazán and in La tía Tula (1921) by Miguel de Unamuno. Each of these novels depicts variations of the stereotypical maternal image. Consequently, both novels constitute a transition between the two centuries. Delibe’s Cinco horas con Mario (1966) subtly undermines the concepts of the proper role of women as promulgated by the Sección Femenina, thus communicating a subversive vision of the mother. Women in La plaza del Diamante (1962) by Mercé Rodoreda also display great variety in the way they behave as mothers. This novel, as well as Si te dicen que caí (1977) by Juan Marsé and La hora violeta (1980) by Montserrat Roig, focus on a negative depiction of motherhood and introduce the mother-daughter conflict.

This study demonstrates how the genre of the novel depicted an evolving role assigned to women who became mothers. In each case, this role represented a subversion of traditional stereotypes and expectations. These subversions reflected the particular vision of each author as well as those changes in society and cultural climate that took place at the time each novel was written.

Advisers: Harriet Turner and Catherine Nickel