Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Psychosocial Development and Female Identity in Laforet's La mujer nueva

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2006), 83, (6), 509–521.

Abstract

Of Carmen Laforet's five published novels, three — Nada (1945), La isla y los demonios (1952) and La insolación (1963) — highlight adolescent identity development as their predominant themes. With La mujer nueva, however, Laforet takes a slightly different turn by portraying an adult's search for a new identity, specifically the quest of the married protagonist, Paulina. While past critical attention has focused almost exclusively on Paulina's religious conversion to Catholicism, this study examines the protagonist's formation in La mujer nueva, using primarily Erik Erikson's stages of psychosocial development and his identity theory, an important application given the autobiographical elements of this novel. Ultimately and in spite of La mujer nueva's deceptive conclusion, this analysis also shows the protagonist's growth as a subtle call for female autonomy despite the suppressive values of the Catholic church and Francisco Franco's regime.

De las cinco novelas publicadas por Carmen Laforet, tres — Nada (1945), La isla y los demonios (1952) y La insolación (1963) — tienen como tema principal el desarrollo de la identidad adolescente. En la mujer nueva este tema varía un poco al describirse la búsqueda de identidad de una adulta casada, la protagonista Paulina. Aunque pasados estudios se han dedicado casi exclusivamente a la conversión católica de Paulina, este artículo examina la formación de la protagonista usando como referencia principal las fases del desarrollo psicosocial y la teoría de la identidad de Erik Erikson, lo cual es un enfoque destacado al considerar los elementos autobiográficos de esta novela. Finalmente, y a pesar de la conclusión engañosa de La mujer nueva, este análisis también señala que el progreso de la protagonista es una petición sutil para la autonomía femenina, a pesar de los valores represivos que entrañaban la Iglesia Católica y el régimen franquista.

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Del Mastro, Mark