Act I Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. In what season does the story take place?

2. What do the servants think of Bernarda Alba?

3. Why are there mourners in Bernarda Alba’s house?

4. Who is being kept locked away and out of sight?

5. Who stands to benefit the most from the death of Antonia María Benavides?

6. What does Bernarda Alba think of the mourners and other inhabitants of the village?

7. Why is Pepe el Romano approaching Bernarda’s house?

8. According to Magdalena, what are Pepe de Romano’s motives?

9. Why is Bernarda upset with Angustias?

10. What does Maria Josefa desire as the curtain falls?

Answers
1. The play occurs in the summer. It is very hot and the women are often using fans.

2. Poncia and the maid dislike Bernarda. Poncia considers her a tyrant. She dreams of an eventual confrontation where she can tell her boss exactly what she thinks of her. The language is strong and imagery explicit.

3. A funeral mass for Antonia María Benavides, the second husband of Bernarda, has just finished. As the play opens, the church bells are tolling.

4. Maria Josefa, Bernarda’s mother, is kept locked up and out of sight of the neighbors.

5. Angustias, the oldest daughter, will inherit the vast majority of the estate, making her attractive to potential suitors. She is actually the step daughter of the deceased.

6. Bernarda considers the mourners and neighbors vicious gossips who are beneath her in social standing. She compares them to goats as they are exiting.

7. Pepe el Romano wishes to court Angustias, Bernarda’s oldest daughter. The other sisters assume that he will be asking Angustias to marry him.

8. Magdalena believes that Pepe el Romano is only interested in Angustias’ new-found wealth. Angustias is 39 years old. According to Magdalena, that is the only reason that the handsome and young Pepe would be interested in the oldest sister.

9. Bernarda is upset that Angustias has washed and powdered her face on the day of her step father’s funeral mass. She considers it improper. Angustias has, most likely, dressed herself up to receive Pepe el Romano at her window, the preferred method of courtship in this Spanish (Andalusian) village.

10. Although a very old woman, Maria Josefa wishes to escape the Bernarda’s house and, “get married at the edge of the sea. . .” She thinks that the daughters are doomed to become old maids.