Last Updated on October 3, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 556
Gaite's protagonist is a lone woman living in Spain who begins the text with a chapter about her struggle to sleep. Narrated from the first-person perspective, the novel follows the protagonist as she interrogates her subconscious in the form of an embodied journalist.
In this first chapter, the protagonist plumbs the depths of her memory trying to locate something familiar, but she struggles to do so. The following quote encapsulates the feeling of trying to conjure the specific images she wants to recall:
As the difficulty of the hieroglyph increases, my desire to understand it trickles away. The tide has suddenly surged over the beach in an unexpected swell and is sweeping everything away as it recedes. I admit defeat and give up.
This quote is significant because it demonstrates the heavy use of metaphor throughout the text, in addition to the existential concerns of the protagonist. As she struggles to recall the individual details of her long-forgotten memories, she realizes how unreliable her memory might be. She explains that, in her insomniac state, she is even more incapable of remembering exactly what she wants to remember.
As a writer, the protagonist struggles to work on her latest project in an oppressive political climate, which is mirrored by her failure to recall her memories. In chapter 4, about midway through the novel, she says:
. . . time steals by so furtively that we don't even notice, we don't see it passing. But all of a sudden we turn around and find images have moved behind our backs, frozen photographs that bear no dates . . .
In this quote, the protagonist is explaining to the journalist why she has compared the "passage of time" with a children's game called "red light." In the game, children are supposed to stop and freeze when told. Anyone who moves during these moments is disqualified. The protagonist sees time as a series of tricks, whereby our mind tricks us into not realizing how quickly time passes as it occurs yet allows us to perceive its passing after the fact. As a result, the protagonist feels, people often have trouble remembering when something...
(The entire section contains 556 words.)
Unlock This Study Guide Now
Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this The Back Room study guide. You'll get access to all of the The Back Room content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.