JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 295
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to, those who were children during this period. This ethical commitment
puts the director himself in the role of imagining or re-creating the
trauma in his "symbolizing process" for his audience (143).
Let me first retrace the film's plot. The action unfolds over the course
of a few days within the confines of a remote orphanage/school in Spain
that has become a home for children of the republicans, whose parents
have either died or are fighting at the front. It is run primarily by the
politically engaged teacher and headmistress, the middle-aged Carmen,
her age-peer Dr. Casares, a poet and an intellectual, and the young man
Jacinto, a kind of general handyman. Carlos, a new arrival at the
orphanage, immediately sees and begins communicating with the ghost
of a boy, who, we discover, disappeared the same night the bomb landed
in the orphanage's central courtyard. The ghost Santi warns Carlos that
the boys are in danger of future harm ("many of you will die"). Santi's
presence is denied or ignored by the adults but is a felt presence to the
other children there, who keep it to themselves. Although bullied by a few
of the boys, especially Jaime, Carlos manages to create friendships with
others that enable him to uncover some secrets behind Santi's haunting
and their future danger. Santi has been murdered by Jacinto, shoved
against a pillar that knocks him unconscious and then tied and dropped
into a pool in the orphanage's cellar. Santi's friend Jaim6 witnessed the
murder but was unable to prevent it; Jaime never reveals what he has seen
because of his fear of the older, stronger, and intimidating Jacinto.
Interwoven with this ghost story is the story of the quasi-Oedipal
relations between Carmen, Dr. Casares, and Jacinto. Jacinto, described
by Carmen as the "saddest" of the orphans, is now a young man in his
twenties who does odd jobs, a menial laborer. Although he has a
girlfriend, Conchita, he has been "servicing" Carmen sexually for many
years (it is suggested, since his sexual maturation). Carmen is ashamed of
her sexual dependence but continues fucking Jacinto. Politically, she is
committed to teaching the orphans socialist values in the classroom; she
also guards over a considerable amount of gold donated to the revolution,
which she hides in the orphanage and attempts unsuccessfully to funnel
to the cause. Although her relations with Jacinto are not openly acknowl-
edged, Dr. Casares tolerates them, presumably because he is sexually
impotent. He shows her his love through the poems he recites to her and
through his devotion (he stays there to be with her, instead of going off
to fight as her husband has done). Jacinto hates the stigma the orphanage
places upon him; yet, he stays to steal the gold Carmen hides in an attempt
to re-create himself as a rich man-and out of a longing to "burn it [the
Here’s what’s next.
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Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition (U.S.). JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004, periodical, 2004; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28644/m1/41/: accessed October 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .