*Gerona. Town tucked away in the northeast corner of Catalonia near Spain’s border with France. Gerona might at first seem an unlikely place to carry the symbolic weight of all the forces sweeping through Spain during the tumultuous years of the young republic. Barcelona, also in Catalonia, about sixty miles southwest of Gerona, is a larger city that played a more important role in the Spanish Civil War than Gerona; however, José María Gironella was born in Gerona and, following the traditional advice given to young writers, wrote about what he knew intimately. For him, Gerona stands for all places in Spain, and each locale in this city has a symbolic meaning.
Alvear apartment. Gerona home of the Alvears, a typical Spanish family living on the second floor of a flat overhanging the Onar River. Because of the river’s seasonal floods, the neighborhood is seen as unattractive, though the Alvear residence is better than the flats the family occupied earlier in Madrid, before Matías Alvear, a Republican, was transferred to Gerona to work as a clerk in the telegraph office. Because Alvear is from Madrid and his wife, Carmen Elgazu, is from the Basque provinces, events occurring in the rest of Spain influence family members. For example, one month after the Republic is proclaimed, Matías’s brother, a radical, participates in the burning of churches and convents in Madrid.
Seminary. Religious institution...
(The entire section is 622 words.)