How Ernesto Sabato's O junacima i grobovima explores the themes of motherhood and madness
O junacima i grobovima (On Heroes and Tombs) is a novel by Argentine writer Ernesto Sabato, published in 1961. It is considered one of his masterpieces, along with El tÃºnel (The Tunnel) and AbaddÃn el exterminador (The Angel of Darkness). The novel consists of four parts, each with a different narrator and style. The first two parts, The Dragon and the Princess and The Invisible Faces, describe the strange love affair between Martin, a sensitive young man who has troubled relations with his parents, and Alejandra, a mysterious girl with a bizarre behavior, who comes from an old, once prestigious Argentine family. The third part, Report on the Blind, depicts the morbid investigation of Fernando Vidal Olmos, a cruel paranoid obsessed with the blind and evil. The last part, The Unknown God, deals with Martin and Bruno after the tragedy announced at the beginning, their overcoming of life's difficulties.
One of the main themes of the novel is motherhood and its influence on the characters' lives. Sabato explores how the lack of maternal love, or its excess, can lead to psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia, paranoia, or depression. He also shows how mothers can be sources of inspiration or repression for their children, especially for their artistic or intellectual aspirations.
Alejandra's mother, for example, is a dominant figure who controls her daughter's every move. She is obsessed with preserving the family's reputation and legacy, which has been tainted by scandals and madness. She forbids Alejandra from seeing Martin, whom she considers a bad influence. She also tries to prevent her from discovering the secrets of her grandfather, who was a famous general and a hero of the Argentine civil wars. Alejandra's mother represents the conservative and authoritarian values of the Argentine society of the time.
Martin's mother, on the other hand, is a passive and submissive woman who has abandoned her son to his father's care. She suffers from depression and lives in a state of apathy and indifference. She has no interest in Martin's feelings or dreams. She only visits him occasionally and gives him money or gifts. Martin's mother represents the emotional emptiness and alienation of the modern world.
Both mothers fail to provide their children with the love and support they need. As a result, Alejandra and Martin develop mental illnesses that isolate them from reality and drive them to despair. Alejandra suffers from schizophrenia and believes that she is haunted by evil forces that want to destroy her. She also inherits her grandfather's obsession with fire and death. Martin suffers from paranoia and believes that he is persecuted by a secret society of blind people who want to kill him. He also inherits his father's obsession with literature and philosophy.
The only positive maternal figure in the novel is Bruno's mother, who is Martin's friend and mentor. She is a kind and wise woman who encourages Martin to pursue his artistic vocation. She also helps him cope with his troubles and gives him hope for the future. Bruno's mother represents the humanistic and progressive values of the Argentine culture.
O junacima i grobovima is a novel that explores the complex and often tragic relationships between mothers and sons in a turbulent historical context. Sabato portrays how mothers can shape their children's personalities and destinies for better or worse. He also reflects on how mothers can be symbols of life or death, creation or destruction, freedom or oppression. 061ffe29dd