How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife
By Manuel Arguilla
"How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife," is a short story written by the highly acclaimed Filipino writer Manuel Arguilla. This award-winning story is a long-standing favorite in Philippine literature. To examine this piece, the author's background must first be considered. Formalistic, historical, and sociological approaches can also be utilized to analyze the story further. Prominent symbols and their interpretations will also be discussed. About Manuel Arguilla
Manuel Arguilla was born to Crisanto Arguilla and Margarita Estabillo in Barrio Nagrebcan in Bauang, La Union on June 17, 1911. The Arguillas were a humble, hard-working family who farmed the small piece of land they owned to make a living. In school, Manuel was a sharp student who showed promise of being a brilliant writer at an early age. He graduated as salutatorian of his high school and then left La Union to study at the University of Philippines, where he would eventually earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. Around the same time, he married fellow writer, Lydia Villanueva, and moved to Ermita, Manila.
After college, he worked at the Bureau of Public Welfare and taught at the University of Manila. After working at the bureau for a few years, Arguilla was selected to be the managing editor of The Welfare Advocate, the business' newsletter. He served at the Bureau until 1943, when he was appointed to the Board of Censors. During this time, he was working at a Japanese propaganda agency and also as an agent of the Markings' Guerillas, an anti-Japanese rebel movement. In 1944, the Japanese discovered Arguilla's disloyalty and arrested him. A few months later, he was tortured and executed at Fort Santiago.
Arguilla is best known for the piece in discussion, "How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife," and over 50 other short stories, some of which include "Midsummer," "Heat," "Morning in Nagrebcan," "Ato," "A Son Is Born," and "The Strongest Man." His own life seemed to have influenced much of his work, as will be discussed shortly. Long after his death, Arguilla and his work is still celebrated for the authentic depiction of the lives of ordinary Filipinos, usually farmers and other rural folk. His short stories are simple yet seem to capture the complexities of the Philippine culture.
Formalistic Approach Plot, Characters, Setting, Style and Theme
"How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife" is a short story about Baldo meeting his brother Leon's new wife, Maria. In the beginning of the story, Baldo picks up Leon and Maria at the edge of Nagrebcan, as one may recall, the barrio where the author was born and raised. Baldo notices at once how beautiful and fragrant his brother's wife is upon their introduction. He discovers that she does not call Leon by his name, instead, by the name of "Noel" (Leon's named spelled backwards). Baldo is a little confused at first. He wonders if their father would approve of this new name. He also notes that his brother's wife does not have the traditional name of "Maring" or "Mayang," but rather, "Maria," a name he decides is different, but beautiful nonetheless.
Baldo, Leon, and Maria go off to the family's home in Nagrebcan. On the ride home, Leon makes his own observations as well. He sees that his father, who instead of sending Baldo with Castano and the calesa to pick them up, sends him off with Labang and the cart. Leon also notices that his father had instructed Baldo to take the route home through the fields, instead of on the main road. Leon seems a little confused and disheartened, but enjoys the beautiful stars with Maria on their ride home. Maria remarks that the stars are much bigger and brighter in Nagrebcan than in Ermita, the town where in his real life, Arguilla lived with his own wife Lydia. Leon and Maria talk about the beauty of Nagrebcan, where "the air is clean and free of dust and smoke." As...