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Arguilla's short story can be read as the uneasy intermingling of two approaching social spheres, the urban and the rural. This is in many ways a fish out of water story, Maria is out of her element in the countryside and Leon out of his element in attempting to reconnect with his father (who is the mastermind behind much of the plot) and convince him that Maria is a worthy daughter in law.
The wife, Maria, is distinctively of the city. Her references are urban, It is so many times bigger and brighter than it was at Ermita beach. and she has to be instructed in the proper way of riding a cart, Maria, sit down on the hay and hold on to anything. There too is the tentativeness in which she approaches the carabao Labang, She hesitated and I saw that her eyes were on the long, curving horns.
Moreover, she carries with her as well the slight imperiousness of the city, shown when she identifies the narrator as if bestowing his name, 'You are Baldo,' she said and placed her hand lightly on my shoulder.
Adding to Maria's allure is her distinctiveness other-ness which quickly besots the narrator, Baldo. He repeatedly describes her as fragrant like a morning when papayas are in bloom. Other characters in the story are similarly taken by Maria, a woman very different from those they are accustomed, I watched Ca Celin, where he stood in front of his horse, and he ran his fingers through its forelock and could not keep his eyes away from her.
If Maria is encountering the countryside for the first time her husband, Leon, is reintroducing himself to it. Simply put, the country folk are no longer sure of Leon who has gone off to the city and studies, gotten a new name, and then returned with a Manilena for a wife. As Baldo muses to himself, Now where did she get that name? I pondered the matter quietly to myself, thinking Father might not like it. But it was only the name of my brother Leon said backward and it...
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