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Silent Wing Themes

(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

Love and Honor
A central theme of the novel centers on affairs of the heart. Questions constantly arise for Julian as he searches for justice and peace of mind. It is love of his country that has caused him to be exiled. He journeys to Guatemala in hopes that he can do the honorable thing and become successful so that he can marry Lucia. However, everywhere he travels he meets people who have been affected by dishonorable acts, people who are victims like he is. People exiled for expressing their thoughts concerning honor. Julian wrestles with love as well. Should he choose to share his life with Sol who loves him deeply and completely? Or, should he keep his promise to Lucia and do the honorable thing even though he is sentencing himself to a lifetime of misery? On the evening that Julian realizes that he has met the woman of his dreams, he "weeps for joy.’’ Yet, ‘‘he finds himself also weeping at the devastating realization that, as close as he has been to the woman of his dreams, the woman of his poems, he must learn to forget her." He knows now the truth of the dilemma: "His most sacred word has been given to Lucia. And once a Cuban criollo man gives his word of honor, it is never to be broken. Never.’’

The Pen and the Sword
Closely connected to honor is the question: which is mightier, the pen or the sword? Julian speaks at the debate and discovers a means to bridge the gap between two compelling sides. He says, ‘‘Separately. . .either pen. . .or sword. . .can help us conquer the world.’’ He adds, ‘‘But united. . .pen and sword, checking and balancing each other, like mind and heart, like body and soul. . .United. . .pen and sword make each of us into that ideal poet-warrior the ancient Greeks dreamed about.’’ The sword changes circumstance swiftly, such as in a revolution. Yet, does not the pen carry action into law? A few words spoken can move hundreds. Can a sword be used in as constructive a fashion? Julian concludes, ‘‘It is up to each of us to make that world of tomorrow come true. Today.’’

Freedom and Slavery
Don Manuel had hoped to affect further change, to free all who inhabit Guatemala but there is a division of class between people of Indian descent and of Spanish descent. Even within the boundlessness of Freedom there seem to be restrictions. Panoplo, the old Mayan bartender listens to Julian's observations about the debate. He listens and nods and all the while he...

(The entire section is 661 words.)