*Madrid. Spain’s capital city, in which a person’s fate is determined by economic status and simple chance. In one passage, Camilo José Cela writes of a Madrid street as assuming, at nightfall, a “half-hungry, half-mysterious air, while a little wind, prowling like a wolf, whistles between the houses.” He then describes with the precision of an anthropologist who stays out late the rich seeking diversion, the homeless, those who wander from bar to bar.
In another scene, a poor man finds himself sitting next to a policeman in a bar and offers the policeman an opinion about the city’s law enforcement policies. “‘It doesn’t seem fair to me to arrest the black-market women in the underground. People have got to eat. . . . I think if a few poor women sell cigarettes it’s wrong for you of the police to be after them.’” The policeman answers that he does as he is told. The policeman’s life story, revealed in a few stark paragraphs before this reply, helps make his short statement resonate throughout the book. For many in the novel, the best odds for survival lie in doing as one is told.
Café La Delicia
Café La Delicia (ka-FAY lah day-LEE-see-uh). Madrid café which, despite its name, offers less delight than tedium. Most of its patrons are impoverished, having barely enough to pay for the cups of coffee they buy so they will be allowed to spend their hours there. The café is...
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