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The Small Key

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Camille De Ocampo

on 13 February 2014

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Transcript of The Small Key

The Small Key
Paz Latorena

•“The Small Key” won third place in Jose Garcia Villa’s Roll of Honor for the year’s best short stories.
•Some of her other stories received similar prizes over the next several years
•One of the foremost writers of the first generation of Filipino English writers, in both literary writing and education was a poet, editor, author, and teacher
Soledad has been bothered by the “small key” that Pedro Buhay carefully keeps. Until a chance came where Soledad was able to use the key to open the old trunk of her husband— a trunk that contains the clothes of Pedro’s ex-wife who passed away years ago. Soledad is affected of what she saw and ended up burning the clothes. Later on, Pedro discovered what his wife did but forgave her, even if the truth is deep inside, he feels bitterness for what she did.

The Small Key delineates the gender role between a man’s heart in smouldering resentment and woman’s heart in gnawing fear.

• Paz Latorena (Jan. 19, 1908, Boac, Marinduque)
• the youngest among the four children of Florencia Manguera and Valentin Latorena
• St.. Scholastica's College in Manila; Manila South High School (now the Araullo High School)
• Education at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Manila
• Mrs. Benitez invited Latorena to write a column in the Philippines Herald, of which she was then literary editor.
•1927: U.P. Writers Club, “A Christmas Tale”
•1927: “The Small Key”
• University of Santo Tomas (UST) - Education (1930)
• Graduate studies
• Invited to teach at UST
• One of the accomplished female writers in English during the pre-war era

• Harvest season
• Pedro Buhay (Indo) and Soledad (Choleng)
• Discontent in the midst of abundance
• "Big shiny key" and "small rusty key" - past and present
• Pedro's reaction
• Soledad looks pale and tired
• "fine set of his head and shoulders, the EASE of his stride" = "strange ache in her throat"
• Coat and the small key
• Folds the garment - an escape
• "She stared at it (small key)... as if she had never seen it before." ; "Her eyes move restlessly around the room... on a small trunk... in a dark corner." -- She already knows and she has been "controlling" her feelings for a long time.
• "She's already dead." -- Trying to appease herself.
• "Soledad came across a
torn garment
... after a few uneven stitches she
her finger... a crimson
drop stained the white garment
... she had been
mending on the wrong side
she pulled the thread
... but
she could not
, for the
... had
completely blinded her
• Indo's face as he puts back the key to his pocket
• No other things to hide her pain = She opens the trunk.
• "Trunk" - Pedro hides the memories of his dead wife
• "Fever" ; ""Symprom of a serious illness"
• Pedro cares for his wife.
• Pedro discovered the burnt clothes of his first wife.
• Inscrutable expression on his face
• Soledad is not sick.
• "Ah! She swept the yard yesterday after I left her. That coupled with the heat must have given her a headache and then the fever

• "She would explain... would be repentant... had done it because she loved him. He woudl listen... forgive her..."
• Is it solely Soledad's fault?
• "A cow had strayed... chewing her cud... unaware of such things.
• Gnawing fear in a woman's heart
•Smouldering resentment in a man's heart
• Man - in control of his feelings (rock) ; Woman - emotional than rational (sadness)
•How one acts and looks becomes the yardstick of the widely accepted notions of masculinity and femininity.

•All the social constructions of what constitute masculinity and femininity dictate the way society treats men and women.

•In “The Small Key”, we examine the dynamics of heterosexual relationships and how heterosexuals situate their sexuality in courtship, marriage and event in illicit affairs.

Aguila, A.A.A., Arriola, J. L., Wigley, J.J.G. (2008).

Philippine Literature: texts themes, approaches.
Manila: UST Publishing House.
Kalaw, E. V. (1995). Images of Women in the Short
Stories of Paz Latorena.
Philippine Studies
Full transcript