Thematic Analysis: Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan
The Modern Face of Philippine Society
(Violence, Abuse, Crime, Justice)
F.H. Batacan’s Pinoy detective novel, Smaller and Smaller Circles, creatively presents the kind of society the Philippines has right now – how, nowadays, negative it has become. It shows a theme on violence and abuse, the other things that go with them like motivation (anger, etc) and consequences (results), and gives the readers an idea about how unfair the society can be most of the time especially to those who are incapable of speaking for themselves.
The novel starts off by presenting one face of violence in the story – the killings. It tells us that crime happens to everyone. No one is invulnerable to crimes. It can be anyone around us: a pregnant woman, a businessman, a driver, a teacher, a student, an adult or a kid. In the story, children about twelve or thirteen whose genitals, faces and hearts were removed are victimized. (pages 5 & 12) The [most] victims are “children of poor families.” (p. 13) The story is set in Payatas – a place which is known for its poverty. This fact somehow limits these victims from attaining justice. This idea will be discussed further later.
Another face of abuse presented here is the abuse of power. Many people who have authority in the society tend to use their power in the wrong way. Government officials, instead of helping the people, make them suffer by corrupting the nation’s funds and fooling them around with their flowery talks. Policemen, instead of bringing bad guys into prison, commit crimes themselves like asking for bribes and “lagay”. There are some cases in the Philippines where the police show the public someone – the ‘criminal’ – just to look good in front of the people’s eyes and to seem in control of everything. This is represented by Attorney Benjamin Arcinas’ character, the acting director of the National Bureau of Investigation who suddenly makes public a...
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