“El camino” is a Spanish novel written by Miguel Delibes where the main character is Daniel, the son of the town’s cheesemaker. He is eleven years old and his friends are Roque, “el Monigo” and German, “El Tinoso”. This novel is a bildungsroman because it focuses on Daniel’s progress as the story develops and how he interacts with the other characters. In the passage from “Entre ellos tres no cabian disensiones. […] Representaba una estimable cualidad, pero solo eso. [Delibes 2009, 55] the narrator describes the three boys in their early childhood and what qualities each of them have. The passage is situated right at the beginning of chapter VII in which Miguel Delibes makes a short description of the boys’ activities and their favorite places where they play. Each of them has its own place in the gang and expresses his masculinity through various methods. There is a necessity for male identity within the gang. For Daniel, the gang represents a zone of freedom from parental constraint and relationship with girls.
Daniel is wide aware of the fact that he cannot impose himself against Roque, even if his is much more intelligent than him. Within the gang, there is a balance of powers and everyone respects his place. In comparison with the other two members of the gang, Daniel was by far the one who ran the fastest. Daniel is at a stage in his childhood where he wants to express his strengths, but how Delibes puts it, it was only a remarkable quality and nothing more. The passage from “A Daniel, el Mochuelo, le contristo el rumbo que tomaba la conversacion. …] El no queria una cicatriz de guerra, ni ninguna golleria: se conformaba con una cicatriz de accidente o de lo que fuese, pero una cicatriz. ” [Delibes 2009, 89] is another passage in which the reader finds out about Daniel’s strongly desire of having a scar. It seemed as he was losing rank and there were so many things going on in his mind at that time that he couldn’t realize the fact that it wasn’t his fault. Daniel experiences a terrible grief in the course of the conversation with Roque and el Tinoso, his best friends, that takes a different turn.
Furthermore, while the other two children begin to share the events that conducted to their “awful” scars, Daniel is embarrassed because he realizes that, contrasting to his friends, his does not have any sign of “good behavior” on his body. In the eight year old child’s vision, scars are signs for masculinity and virtue and as he does not have the honor of owing one, he begins to feel insecure, even inferior to his companions. The author mentions that the little boy “would give away ten years of his life for having a deep scar”. This line can only reveal Daniel’s childish and naive perception concerning real life.
As he is only eight years old, the boy does not possess yet the ability to value life and to cherish it. For this reason he is ready to make this affirmation with so great levity and without any abstraction. The child has the tendency to feel left outside of the group because he is different and at his young age to be different feels as the end of the world. He does not realize yet that variety gives us individuality, personality, which is basically the real beauty of the human being. Beside all this, the absence of a scar is often correlated to “being sissy” among children.
As I previously mentioned, at this fragile age a child wants to feel as less odd as possible. His naivety is once proved, by stating the fact that he is not really interested in the method which could convert him into the proud owner of a real scar, but anyhow, he really needs one. As the narrative progresses, Daniel manages to reaffirm himself through the “cocana” episode from “Por la tarde, bajo a la romeria. […] Te puedes matar. ” [Delibes 2009, 165]. He was still a depressed and sad young boy, but through the “cocana” challenge he was no longer uncertain about his virility.
Nobody was expecting him to actually pull this off, so it was a perfect twist of situation, leaving the reader breathless. Being the only one who pulled off the challenge, he showed everybody in the village he still deserved his place in the gang. He had reached another stage in his development as a man. He moved on from a frustrated and uncertain boy to a brave and full of strength man. Concerning the love part in Daniel’s life, during his chat with Uca-Uca , revealed in the following passage “La la nina pregunto de pronto: […]Ahora se encontraba con la Uca-uca con mas frecuencia y ya no la rehuia con la hosquedad que lo hacia antes. [Delibes 2009, 174-5], Daniel begins to feel a certain bond between them, a special connection. Our little boy starts to become a mature young man. He sees Uca from another pespective. Daniel appreciates their chatting and senses a feeling of security and similarity and even a bit of solidarity, as they discover that they share the same issues concerning the relationship with the parents. The boy also realizes that he was so ardently involved in their discussion, as Mica did not wander through his mind for even one second.
Daniel remembers the fact that he needs go to the big city in order to have a proper education, unlike his parents, but this thought becomes insupportable for the boy. This passage shows cleary that his relation with Uca-Uca has improved because he realizes now that he is destined to be with her, instead of Mica. Daniel, as a young man that he is converting into, learns how to make his way through life. At the same time, certain feelings, peculiar to adolescence, grow into his hearth. In the final section of the story, from “Y, al pensar por la finca del Indiano…[…] Y llor o, al fin. [Delibes 2009, 199], Daniel wistfully remembers his last day spent in the valley. The author attentively describes in detail every sensation experienced by the character: visual images (the sun rays) and also auditory images, more exactly footsteps and also a feminine voice. He throbs and jumps out of the bed filled with emotion and goes to the window. It was Uca-Uca. The boy notices the strange shine in Uca-Uca’s eyes. The girl explains to Daniel in a grave tone that she is unable to say goodbye at the train station, as it would be quite sorrowful for her.
Being impressed by how emotive she was, Daniel feels an unkown and strange thing into his chest. Well, these are the first signs of love in one adolescent’s heart. Our hero evolved from adopting an indifferent attitude towards girls to actually have feeling for one in particular. Daniel says goodbye to Uca-Uca with a quaint tremble in his voice. The boy is obviously overwhelmed with contradictory feelings and emotions. Most probably Daniel realizes that he really found the true love, but the timing is so wrong, as he is supposed to leave the valley.
His gestures betrayed his bashfulness, as he covers his head with his hands, but in the meantime he realizes that he just cannot waste this last opportunity to share his emotions. Though he has the fierce desire to plainly state everything, he is only able to ask the girl not to get rid of her freckles “No quiero que te las quite! ” [Delibes 2009, 199]. Although this sounds like a trivial statement, the line is full of meaning: Daniel appreciates the simplicity of Uca-Uca; he does not need a perfect model of beauty and beside this, he realizes that apparent flaws make her beautiful, because without her freckles she wouldn’t be her.
Clearly, Daniel’s mentality evolved in a lovely manner. Furthermore, he impulsively moves away from the window because tears will soon invade his young face. Daniel starts to regret the decision of leaving the valley, especially in this special moment, when he got emotionally involved with another person. Despite the sadness from his heart, Daniel has the opportunity to learn that not everything in life goes as we would like and also some decisions concerning the future should be above emotions, because fairly speaking Daniel received the chance to construct a greater future for himself. In the end the boy proves he has matured.