Village. Typical community of the Andalusian plain in southern Spain to which Luis de Vargas, a young man studying for the priesthood, returns in order to visit his father Don Pedro, the community’s reverend vicar. Having been away from the village since he was a child, the adult Luis observes that everything in it now seems smaller; his father’s house pales into relative insignificance by comparison with the seminary in which he is training for the priesthood. The orchards and flowery streams of the surrounding countryside initially seem more beautiful, although Luis soon begins to weary of their monotony and lack of intellectual stimulation.
Beyond the orchards are the vineyards and olive groves that provide the staple crops of the region. A sanctuary consecrated to the Virgin Mary, the patroness of the village, sits on the summit of a neighboring hill, while another small hermitage crowns a smaller hill called Calvary. The ruins of the ancient convent of Saint Francis de Paul are two miles away. The mountains of the Sierra Nevada form a backdrop to the scene.
In spite of all the ostentatious trappings of Roman Catholicism that surround the village, its inhabitants are not entirely disconnected from their ancestors’ pagan past. The festival of Saint John’s Day, which replaced more ancient celebrations associated with the summer solstice, is still tainted by paganism and primitive naturalism; the whole population moves out-of-doors, moving among little tables laden with confections and booths selling dolls and toys. The village clubhouse is thoroughly secularized; men go there to read newspapers, play cards and chess, and to watch cockfights, while wine-buyers from Xeres...
(The entire section is 707 words.)