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The Summer Solstice by Nick Joaquin: A Literary Analysis of Symbolism, Imagery, and Irony



Summer Solstice by Nick Joaquin: A Review




The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. In many cultures around the world, this day is celebrated with various rituals and festivities that honor the sun, nature, and fertility. In Philippine culture, one of these rituals is called Tadtarin, a three-day festival that involves dancing, singing, feasting, and worshiping a wooden idol of St. John the Baptist.




Summer Solstice By Nick Joaquin Pdf 19



One of the most famous stories that depicts this ritual is "The Summer Solstice" by Nick Joaquin, a renowned Filipino writer who was awarded the National Artist for Literature in 1976. Joaquin was known for his historical fiction, essays, journalism, and poetry that explored the rich and diverse heritage of Philippine culture. His stories often reflected his own Catholic upbringing, his fascination with Filipino folklore and mythology, and his critique of colonialism and modernization.


"The Summer Solstice" is one of his most acclaimed stories that was first published in 1951. It tells the story of a wealthy Manila family in the 1850s who celebrate St. John's Day with their grandfather. The story focuses on Doña Lupeng Moreta, a young and beautiful wife who is dissatisfied with her marriage to Don Paeng Moreta, a conservative and domineering husband. The story explores how Doña Lupeng's participation in the Tadtarin ritual transforms her perspective on gender roles and power dynamics in her society.


Summary of the Story




The story begins with Doña Lupeng waking up to a hot summer day with a sound of screaming in her ears. She finds out that her maid Amada is still in bed, laughing hysterically after attending the Tadtarin ritual last night. Doña Lupeng scolds her for disobeying her orders not to go to the ritual, but Amada's husband Entoy explains that she is possessed by the spirit of St. John and he cannot touch her.


Doña Lupeng then prepares to go to her grandfather's house with her three children and her husband Don Paeng. On their way, they encounter a group of women who are dancing wildly around a wooden idol of St. John. Doña Lupeng is intrigued by their behavior but Don Paeng is disgusted by their paganism. He tells her that he prefers women who are modest and submissive like his mother.


At their grandfather's house, they are greeted by Doña Lupeng's cousin Guido, a young and handsome bachelor who has just returned from Europe. Guido flirts with Doña Lupeng and compliments her beauty and intelligence. He also tells her that he admires the Tadtarin women for their freedom and passion. He invites her to join him in watching the ritual later that night.


Doña Lupeng agrees to go with Guido, leaving Don Paeng behind with the children and the grandfather. She is curious about the ritual and wants to experience something different from her boring and oppressive life. She also wants to make Don Paeng jealous and show him that she is not his property.


At the ritual, Doña Lupeng is amazed by the sight of hundreds of women dancing around a huge bonfire, wearing colorful costumes and flowers, and holding torches and knives. They chant and sing praises to St. John, who they believe is their lover and protector. They also mock and insult the men who are watching from a distance, calling them weak and cowardly.


Doña Lupeng feels a strange attraction to the idol of St. John, which resembles Guido. She also feels a surge of power and confidence as she joins the women in their dance. She realizes that she has been repressed and unhappy in her marriage, and that she deserves respect and love from her husband.


The climax of the story occurs when Don Paeng arrives at the scene, looking for Doña Lupeng. He is shocked and angry to see her dancing with the other women, especially when she kisses the idol of St. John. He tries to pull her away from the crowd, but she resists and pushes him back. She tells him that he is not her master, and that she is the one who should be worshiped and obeyed.


The resolution of the story happens when Doña Lupeng returns home with Don Paeng, who is humiliated and hurt by her actions. He begs her to forgive him for his harshness and neglect, and promises to treat her better. He also asks her to whip him with his belt, as a sign of his submission and repentance. Doña Lupeng agrees to do so, feeling sorry for him but also enjoying her newfound authority. She whips him gently, then embraces him tenderly. She tells him that she loves him, but also warns him not to forget what happened that night.


Analysis of the Story




"The Summer Solstice" is a complex and layered story that uses various literary devices to convey its message. Some of these devices are:



  • Symbolism: Joaquin uses symbols to represent abstract ideas or concepts in the story. For example, the sun symbolizes power, life, and fertility; the moon symbolizes weakness, death, and sterility; the Tadtarin women symbolize nature, passion, and freedom; the Moreta family symbolize civilization, reason, and order; the idol of St. John symbolizes love, protection, and rebellion; the whip symbolizes domination, punishment, and repentance.



  • Imagery: Joaquin uses vivid and descriptive language to create sensory impressions in the reader's mind. For example, he describes the heat of the summer day as "a sound of screaming in her ears" and "the air already burning with the immense, intense fever of noon"; he describes Amada's laughter as "the mute mirth jerking in her throat; the moist pile of her flesh quivering like brown jelly"; he describes the Tadtarin ritual as "a huge bonfire that flared like a sun in the night" and "a wild chorus of shrieks that pierced the heavens".



  • Irony: Joaquin uses irony to create contrast or contradiction between what is expected and what actually happens in the story. For example, he uses situational irony when Doña Lupeng, who initially scorns the Tadtarin women for their immodesty and irrationality, ends up joining them in their dance and defying her husband; he uses verbal irony when Don Paeng, who initially praises his mother for being a model wife who obeyed his father without question, ends up asking his wife to whip him like a child; he uses dramatic irony when Guido, who claims to be an enlightened man who respects women's rights and choices, ends up being rejected by Doña Lupeng for being too similar to St. John.



Joaquin also uses these devices to portray the conflict between tradition and modernity, paganism and Christianity, and masculinity and femininity in Philippine society. He shows how these conflicts are rooted in history, culture, and psychology, and how they affect the lives of individuals and communities.


Evaluation of the Story




"The Summer Solstice" is a well-written and well-crafted story that showcases Joaquin's mastery of the English language and his deep understanding of the Philippine culture. Some of the strengths and weaknesses of the story are:



Strengths:



  • The story is engaging and captivating, with a plot that builds up suspense and tension until the surprising and satisfying climax and resolution.



  • The story is rich and nuanced, with multiple layers of meaning and interpretation that invite the reader to think critically and creatively.



  • The story is realistic and authentic, with characters that are complex and relatable, and settings that are vivid and detailed.




Weaknesses:



  • The story is dense and challenging, with a language that is sometimes archaic and obscure, and references that are sometimes unfamiliar and obscure.



  • The story is controversial and provocative, with a message that is sometimes ambiguous and contradictory, and implications that are sometimes offensive and problematic.



  • The story is dated and limited, with a perspective that is sometimes biased and outdated, and a relevance that is sometimes diminished and questionable.




The story also has social, cultural, and historical implications for Philippine readers and beyond. Some of these implications are:



  • The story reflects the diversity and complexity of the Philippine culture, which is influenced by various factors such as geography, ethnicity, religion, history, politics, and globalization.



  • The story reveals the challenges and opportunities of the Philippine society, which is faced with issues such as identity, development, democracy, human rights, gender equality, environmental sustainability, and cultural preservation.



  • The story contributes to the legacy and recognition of the Philippine literature, which is a valuable source of knowledge, wisdom, creativity, and expression for Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike.



Conclusion




In conclusion, "The Summer Solstice" by Nick Joaquin is a remarkable story that deserves to be read and appreciated by anyone who is interested in Philippine culture and literature. The story tells a compelling tale of a woman's awakening to her own power and potential in a society that oppresses and suppresses her. The story also explores the fascinating themes of tradition versus modernity, paganism versus Christianity, and masculinity versus femininity in Philippine society. The story also demonstrates Joaquin's skillful use of symbolism, imagery, irony, and other literary devices to convey his message.


and culture of the Philippines, especially during the Spanish colonial period. I also appreciated the story's artistic and literary merits, such as its use of symbolism, imagery, irony, and other devices. I think this story is a masterpiece of Philippine literature that deserves more recognition and appreciation.


However, I also acknowledge that this story is not perfect and may have some flaws and limitations. For example, I found some of the language and references in the story to be difficult and obscure, requiring me to do some research and annotation to understand them better. I also found some of the message and implications of the story to be ambiguous and contradictory, requiring me to do some analysis and evaluation to form my own opinion. I also found some of the perspective and relevance of the story to be biased and outdated, requiring me to do some comparison and contextualization to relate it to my own situation.


Therefore, I would recommend this story to anyone who is interested in Philippine culture and literature, but with some caution and guidance. I would suggest that readers should have some background knowledge and familiarity with the history and culture of the Philippines, especially during the Spanish colonial period. I would also suggest that readers should have some critical thinking and creative skills to interpret and appreciate the story's literary devices and themes. I would also suggest that readers should have some open-mindedness and sensitivity to respect and understand the story's perspective and relevance, even if they may not agree or relate with it.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about "The Summer Solstice" by Nick Joaquin:



What is the significance of the title "The Summer Solstice"?


The title "The Summer Solstice" refers to the longest day of the year, when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. This day is celebrated in many cultures around the world with various rituals and festivities that honor the sun, nature, and fertility. In Philippine culture, one of these rituals is called Tadtarin, a three-day festival that involves dancing, singing, feasting, and worshiping a wooden idol of St. John the Baptist. The title also suggests a turning point or a transformation in the lives of the characters, especially Doña Lupeng, who undergoes a change in her attitude and behavior after participating in the ritual.





Who is St. John the Baptist and why is he important in the story?


St. John the Baptist is a biblical figure who was a prophet and a cousin of Jesus Christ. He was known for baptizing people in the Jordan River as a sign of repentance and preparation for the coming of Christ. He was also known for being beheaded by King Herod at the request of his daughter Salome. In Philippine culture, St. John the Baptist is venerated as a patron saint of water, rain, floods, and baptism. He is also associated with Tadtarin, a pagan ritual that was adapted by Filipino Catholics as a way of honoring him. In the story, St. John the Baptist is represented by a wooden idol that resembles Guido, Doña Lupeng's cousin. The idol becomes an object of attraction and devotion for Doña Lupeng, who kisses it during I'm pleased to continue writing FAQs. Here are some more of them:


What is the Tadtarin festival and why is it important in the story?


The Tadtarin festival is a three-day traditional fertility ritual involving women and held during summer in the Philippines. The last day of the festival coincides with St. John's Day, a Catholic feast. Men dressed as women are able to participate in the pagan celebration. The festival is similar to the fertility rites of Obando, Bulacan. The festival is important in the story because it represents the ancient and primal aspect of Philippine culture, which contrasts with the modern and civilized aspect represented by the Moreta family. The festival also serves as a catalyst for Doña Lupeng's transformation from a submissive and unhappy wife to a powerful and liberated woman.





What is the role of Guido in the story and what does he symbolize?


Guido is Don Paeng's cousin who has just returned from Europe. He is a young and handsome bachelor who flirts with Doña Lupeng and invites her to join him in watching the Tadtarin ritual. He also resembles the idol of St. John that Doña Lupeng kisses during the ritual. Guido plays the role of a tempter and a lover in the story, who awakens Doña Lupeng's curiosity and desire for something different from her boring and oppressive life. He also symbolizes the foreign and exotic influence that challenges and threatens the local and familiar order of things.





What is the message or theme of the story and how is it conveyed?


The message or theme of the story is that there is a conflict between tradition and modernity, paganism and Christianity, and masculinity and femininity in Philippine society, and that this conflict can be resolved by finding a balance or a harmony between them. The story conveys this message by showing how Doña Lupeng experiences both sides of this conflict through her participation in the Tadtarin ritual and her relationship with Don Paeng. She realizes that she has been repressed and unhappy in her marriage, but she also realizes that she loves and respects her husband. She asserts her power and independence as a woman, but she also shows her compassion and tenderness as a wife. She embraces her natural and passionate side, but she also maintains her civilized and rational side.





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