Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 322
The Hive is a novel by Spanish writer Camilo José Cela. The novel was published in 1950. The first prominent theme of The Hive is life in Madrid at the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War. The novel explores how the war has affected both the people of Madrid specifically and Spain as a whole. Another theme of The Hive is poverty and depravity—in particular, the economic stagnation that stems from war, especially one that was as devastating as the Spanish Civil War.
The other theme of the novel is the detailed analysis of ordinary citizens as they try to cope with the social, political, economic, and psychological effects of war. Since the war that split Spain was a civil war, there were still palpable social and political divisions between particular segments of Spanish society. There are over 300 characters in the novel, which allows Camilo José Cela to convey his own personal thoughts, ideologies, philosophies, and commentary on post-Civil War Spain. He focuses particularly on how it affected the citizens of Madrid, which is the political seat of the country. In this sense, the novel can also be seen as a political and sociological work that tries to provide a post-event analysis of the war, which is told through the perspective of Camilo José Cela.
However, Cela's viewpoints are diverse and represent various segments of the Spanish population. In this regard, the novel is also a journalistic work in the guise of fiction. For instance, the narrative features historical facts and events that have been documented, such as the Tehran conference. Another theme of the book is the ethnographic study of Spain's various dialects. The author emphasized this by using accurate regional dialects, lexicon, and other manners of speech. Perhaps this was Cela's attempt to symbolically show the cultural and sub-cultural divisions between the regions of Spain, which is an analogy for the political internal tensions that led to the Civil War.