Act I Questions and Answers
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?
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.
Act II Questions and Answers
1. Why would Magdalena ask whether she should embroider Pepe el Romano’s initials on a sheet?
2. Magdalena is ironic when she states that Pepe el Romano left Angustias’ window “so late.” Why?
3. How do the descriptions of the visits of Pepe el Romano to Angustias’ window and Evaristo to Poncia’s differ?
4. What did Poncia do to her husband?
5. Why doesn’t Adela sleep well?
6. What advice does Poncia give Adela?
7. Who steals the picture of Pepe el Romano? Was the theft a joke?
8. Why doesn’t Bernarda listen to Poncia’s warnings?
9. Who does Pepe el Romano visit between 1 and 4 A.M.?
10. What judgement does Bernarda pass on the unwed mother who has killed her newborn child?
1. Magdalena is alluding to Pepe el Romano’s window visits.
2. Magdalena does not consider 1 A.M. late. She thinks Pepe el Romano is interested in Angustias’ inheritance. There is no passion in his window visit.
3. Pepe el Romano’s visit to Angustias lacks passion. Evaristo wanted to embrace Poncia.
4. She would beat him and killed his birds.
5. Adela is up with Pepe el Romano until 4 A.M.
6. Poncia tells Adela to let Angustias marry Pepe el Romano. According to Poncia, Angustias is bound to die in childbirth. Then Pepe el Romano can marry Adela.
7. Martirio. The theft is not a joke. Martirio is jealous of Adela.
8. Bernarda is in a state of denial about her own slipping authority and her daughters’ transgressions. She refuses to believe the warnings of a mere servant.
10. Bernarda says the woman should be whipped and killed.
Act III Questions and Answers
1. What order does Bernarda give to the stable-hand regarding the breeding stallion?
2. What is Angustius’ engagement ring made out of? What does it symbolize according to Prudencia?
3. Why isn’t Angustias meeting Pepe el Romano that evening?
4. What advice does Bernarda give Angustias concerning Pepe el Romano?
5. Why does Adela get out of bed?
6. What is Maria Josefa carrying? Why?
7. Is Adela ashamed at being caught with Pepe el Romano? Does she care what the neighbors think?
8. Why does Martirio lie to Adela about Pepe el Romano being shot?
9. How does Bernarda react to the death of her daughter?
10. How does Martirio react?
1. She tells him to let the stallion loose and lock up the mares. This is symbolic of the household where women are locked inside while the men are free in the fields.
2. The ring is made of pearls, which symbolize tears according to Prudencia.
3. Pepe el Romaano , saying he was going on a trip.
4. She basically tells her daughter to keep silent and let her future husband do as he wishes.
5. Adela gets out of bed to meet Pepe el Romano in the corral. She tells the maid and Poncia that she is getting water.
6. Maria Josefa is carrying a baby ewe, which can symbolize the infant Jesus, unborn mankind and fertility.
7. Adela is not ashamed of being caught with Pepe el Romano and is prepared to become a kept woman. She does not care what the neighbors think.
8. Martirio lies to make Adela miserable. The lie causes Adela to hang herself.
9. Bernarda attempts to preserve appearances. She stresses the absurd– that Adela died a virgin.
10. Martirio is jealous that Adela “had” Pepe el Romano.