Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

As a true exponent of the avant-garde movement, The Shrouded Woman expresses a preoccupation with those mysterious aspects of reality that lie beyond the limits of scientific and rational parameters. Shortly after the publication of the novel, María Luisa Bombal said: “I think people have willingly ignored that we live on the surface of the unknown. We have organized a logical system on a well of mystery. We have chosen to ignore what is primordial to Life: Death.” Therefore, the literary representation of Death is not only a supernatural locale of the novel but also an important theme that enlightens the conception of Life. Death is seen as a process of immersion in the primordial cosmos. The archetypal motif of the journey into death is presented in counterpoint to other experiences in the realm of the living. Only in death does Ana María comprehend the tragic and profound significance of her life and that of others. Thus, Death is a spiritual experience that leads not only to the hidden meaning of life but also to an integration with the cosmic forces that are the origins of Life. A mysterious voice invites Ana María to abandon her coffin and explore a magical zone that belongs to the unknown. Light and darkness, Life and Death emerge in the supernatural gardens underground, as in the primordial stage of biblical Genesis. The dead protagonist descends into the origins of the Universe, going down into the earth where she encounters flowers of bone...

(The entire section is 599 words.)