The child’s perspective of war and its aftermath in works of adult prose and film in Mexico and Spain
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This dissertation investigates the literary and cinematic use of the child’s perspective to present the Mexican Revolution and the Spanish Civil War and their aftermath in several Mexican, Spanish, and international (Mexican-Spanish collaborative) narratives of the 20th and early 21st Centuries written by adult authors and filmmakers, and targeted for adult audiences. The Mexican narratives are Cartucho and Las manos de mamá by Nellie Campobello, Balún Canán by Rosario Castellanos, and Bandidos, a film by Luis Estrada; selected Spanish works are El espíritu de la colmena by Víctor Erice, Cría cuervos by Carlos Saura, and El sur by Adelaida García Morales; and both international works are films by Guillermo del Toro, El espinazo del diablo and El laberinto del fauno. I attempt to determine the textual or cinematic function of the child as first person (homodiegetic) narrative viewer in these works, and I study the different ways in which this child’s point of view is constructed in order to depict the overwhelming tragedy of war. I note patterns and diversities in subject matter presented by the narrative voice, and observe the characteristics of the child narrative viewer’s world and priorities (as presented by the authors and filmmakers), paying careful attention to how each perceives and understands his or her country’s violent upheaval and its aftermath. The theoretical framework of this investigation draws mainly from trauma theory, Gothic studies, and the tradition of the fairy tale. I illustrate how within the war narrative in addition to the author’s/filmmaker’s desire to recreate the sentiment that a child would evoke in adult readers and viewers, the child narrative viewer is employed for three main reasons: to play upon or against preexisting notions of the child’s innocence; to represent (possibly subversively) the nation; and as therapeutic means of returning to a paradise lost or creating a paradise never experienced.