The Family of Pascual Duarte Themes
by Camilo José Cela

Start Your Free Trial

The Family of Pascual Duarte Themes

Camilo Jose Cela's La Familia de Pascual Duarte has several subtopics that stem from a central, main topic: the inevitability of fate.

Download The Family of Pascual Duarte Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Pascual Duarte, a man imprisoned for murders which include that of his own mother, as well as that of his wife's lover, tells his story from behind bars. The theme of the "inevitability of fate" is immediately perceived when we learn that Pascual's life would have never stood a chance for progress or change. His journey only went from bad to worse--he does not get to choose what family he will be born into, he ends up as part of the most toxic family unit imaginable, and one event cycles into the next and his life continues into a non-stop circle of chaos.

The true tragedy of it all is asking ourselves the question: Had Pascual Duarte been born into a different, healthier family, would his fate be different?

Theme- Toxic parenthood:

The reason why this novel is titled The Family of Pascual Duarte instead of The Life of Pascual Duarte has everything to do with the central theme of the story that we've just discussed. This is because his family is directly connected to his tragic fate. Each family member, and extended family members, are tremendously flawed in a big way. Each of them carries karmic chaos on their own. Their actions build Pascual Duarte into the person that he eventually becomes.

The key player in Pascual's tragedy is his mother, an abusive alcoholic who was also unfaithful to her husband.

On the other hand, his father is also abusive, but would only show restraint when commanded by his daughter, Rosario, Pascual's sister. Clearly, the Duarte family roles are crisscrossed, disrespect is rampant, and nothing good can come out of that. Eventually, Rosario leaves the home to become a prostitute. The fates of Duarte and Rosario are therefore the products of toxic parenthood.

Theme: Influence of motherhood

Duarte's life began in chaos and continued in that cycle until Duarte finally went straight to what he felt was the source of all of his tragedies: his mother--namely, her toxic, evil influence in his life. Is his life a product of nature, nurture, or plain karmic chaos? To add insult to tragedy, the death of his mother, by his hand, something...

(The entire section is 585 words.)