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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 203

Shadow of a Bull traces the story of a young man, Manolo, who defies everyone's expectations that he will become a great bull-fighter in the image of his dead father. Wojciechowska effectively conveys Manolo's dread that the villagers, who expect him to be as brave and heroic as his father, will discover his self-perceived cowardice and low self-esteem. Because of his fear, Manolo resists confronting the bull.

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Wojciechowska uses her knowledge and love of Spain to write lucid descriptions of its people and culture. Her portrayal of bull-fighting is clear and accurate: the mothers resignedly give their sons over to this futile pursuit, the village men revel in the excitement and grandeur of it, and while some young men love it, some, such as Manolo, feel the despair of failing at the sport.

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Manolo finds the courage to proclaim that he does not choose to be a bull-fighter, announcing that he wants to be a doctor like the one he saw treat "El Magnifico," a young boy who fought bravely but was gored. In making this choice, Manolo sets himself free. There are all kinds of bravery, the story reveals, but to be true to oneself is the most courageous act of all.

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