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Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 524

As if often the case with books, the most striking quotations occur at both the beginning and the end. In The Family of Pascual Duarte it is not the literal start of the book (which is the "transcriber's note") but the beginning of Duarte's own narrative that is significant and perhaps the key to Cela's principal theme:

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Yo, señor, no soy malo. (No, sir, I am not a bad person).

Pascual, in spite of the horrible crimes he commits, is not evil, or at least, he does not view himself that way. I would identify both social criticism and existential thinking at the root of Cela's novel. In the grinding poverty of rural Spain in the late nineteenth--and early twentieth-century, with abusive parents, it would be surprising if Pascual were somehow to become a model citizen. His whole environment is constricting, but the larger point may be that life is like that for anyone, even for people who do not grow up in such circumstances. The last line of Pascual's narrative is:

Podía respirar... (I could breathe....)

This comes after the horrific culmination of his crimes. What Pascual experiences is a sense of liberation, and the reader must focus primarily on the reasons for it and the mystery behind those reasons.

After each of his successive crimes occurs, Pascual expresses an afterthought which is revealing. He shoots his dog because the dog is staring at him in a way he thinks is accusatory. After doing so he says,

La perra tenía una sangre oscura y pegajosa que se extendía poco a poco por la tierra. (The bitch's blood was dark and sticky and it spread slowly along the dry earth.)

This is his first killing, but with those that follow, his observations about blood continue, as we will see below.

After his first period of incarceration Pascual reflects that they should have kept him locked up longer, for then he would not have been...

(The entire section contains 524 words.)

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