This is part of the ongoing #TomeClub series, where I and a few of you suckers decided to read Don Quixote together. I am not going to title these in a clever manner. I am sorry to disappoint you.
We could talk about Sancho Panza and his wine skin or how my 3 year old keeps throwing stuffed animals at me when I try to read, but instead let’s talk about Marcela. She is a wealthy orphan, who takes to the forest to escape the unwanted attention of men. But even there, men follow her, and when she rebukes their advances, she’s made out to be the evil temptress. But what has she done but exist? A shepherd dies, presumably, from a broken heart after having his affection’s rejected by Marcela. At the funeral, the shepherds talk about what a giant bitch she is. But she shows up and rebukes the men, telling them that she hasn’t invited their advances. All she is doing is existing and trying to lead a moral life. She had a great line where she asks if the object of love is obligated to love, just because it is the object?
Then, she walks away.
She never comes back. I know. I looked. She is a beautiful woman. One who, in these sorts of novels, would become the leading lady, the focus of men. But she doesn’t want that. She never consented to lead. So, she walks away and Cervantes let’s her.
Right now there is a debate about women on the internet. Women who receive criticism and death threats merely for existing as themselves online. This topic is salient to me because I have received criticism online. Not the amounts of some women like Emily Gould or Amanda Marcotte, but enough, to where I don’t read comments on essays that are published not on this site. And I have received enough emails threatening to call CPS on me that I do worry about it. In an essay for Buzzfeed, Emily Gould writes about walking away from criticism isn’t enough. How we need to put up sustained resistance. I loved what she had to say about sustaining resistance to the rhetoric that keeps us chained. And I thought of that essay when I read about Marcela. The woman who never consented to be your idol and your muse. The woman who resists. The woman who walks the hell away. I don’t see her walking away as a passive aggressive technique. It’s very aggressive. She Feems to be saying that this whole system is messed up and she can’t change it, so she wants nothing to do with it. She is resisting anything that will keep her chained.
And now I feel like a shepherd. I love her. I want more of her. But I respect that she wants to walk away.
I am finding that I am only able to read one or two nights a week. And my Kindle app says I’m 20% through with the book. That puts me somewhere near page 200. Where are you?
Have you started? Do you love you some Sancho Panza?
That windmill scene was a bit anti-climatic. I mean it’s this scene that has been replayed and riffed in all of literature and that was it. Also, could the Sancho Panza dialogue be any better?
Burning books? Oh that reminds me, that whole discussion of if books are a bad influence was discussed recently, here. Do you think books can be a bad influence?