Last Updated September 5, 2023.
The novel Pepita Jimenez by Juan Valera is a romantic tale of a priest who gives up his heavenly vocation for the love of his life. The story follows their budding romance as they overcome the many obstacles in their way, including his vows and her fiancé, who happens to be the priest-to-be's father. Here are a few quotes that outline some of the plot and themes in the story.
The dinner at the house of Pepita Jimenez, which I mentioned to you, took place three days ago. As she leads so retired a life, I had not met her before; she seemed to me, in truth, as beautiful as she is said to be, and I noticed that her amiability with my father was such as to give him reason to hope, at least judging superficially, that she will yield to his wishes in the end, and accept his hand.
Luis is tired of his village. He returns to visit briefly, but he is growing weary of staying there and wishes to return to his seminary. However, after a dinner with his father and Pepita, he shows an immediate eye for her. He says that she is as beautiful as has been claimed and that she is very amiable, but at this point, he believes it is amiability towards his father and that they will potentially be a suitable match. The beginnings of his affection are stirring, but they are not yet fully awakened.
"Have no such fear," returned Don Luis. "My fancy, by its own creations, has more power over my spirit than the whole universe—only excepting yourself—by what it transmits to it through the senses."
At long last, after becoming closer and closer and after Pepita plots to make herself ill so that Don Luis will visit her, Luis admits his love for her. The two discuss and argue over his imminent departure for ordination, but he eventually relents, vowing his love to her. After all this time, they are vindicated in their feelings for one another, and Don Luis says that Pepita has a power over him that even his vows and own steadfast nature could not overcome.
Continuing your comparison, since you speak of Pepita as a crucible and Luis as a metal, I shall find, or rather I have found already, a bellows, or blow-pipe, very well adapted to kindle up the fire, so that the metal may melt in it the more quickly.
Speaking with his father, Luis confesses everything, fearing his father's retribution. Prior to finishing his story, however, his father admits to knowing all about their love and to the fact that he was actually the architect behind it. He knew the two would be a fit match and sought to draw them closer together. He even procures a letter he wrote prior to the events of their courtship about his plan to get the two together. Don Luis embraces him and shows incredible gratitude because his father has helped him to find the love of his life and has arranged everything to bring them closer together and prepare a wedding for the two of them, without either knowing what he was doing.