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Rhetorical Self-Fashioning in Aramburu: A Contemporary Take on Cervantine Techniques



In Cervantes’ Don Quijote (1605), Dulcinea does not participate in any dialogue, and yet still appears a vivid character as real as the other female characters who do speak in the novel. Dulcinea, a figment of others’ imaginations, forms a sharp contrast with the character of Marcela, who fashions an authoritative self through dialogue with other characters. Marcela’s self, like Dulcinea’s, is relational to others’; however, her self-fashioning frees her from the objectification of Dulcineism and instead Marcela makes herself a character that transgresses conventional narratives, both cultural and literary. Likewise, a similar rejection of Dulcineism and a desire to craft her life story through her dialectical exchanges with the rest of the characters enables Miren, a principal female character in Aramburu’s Patria (2016), to fashion a self that actively contravenes the general perspective of her son’s supposed crimes as an etarra. In this analysis, I consider the Cervantine technique of rhetorical self-fashioning in characters such as Marcela and I trace this technique in the development of the character of Miren in Aramburu’s contemporary novel, Patria. Cervantes’ Marcela inaugurates the self-fashioning character in Western fiction, which is expanded by Aramburu four-hundred years later with his female character, Miren. Like Marcela, Miren must fashion herself against a polyphony of voices, frequently male, that provide a variety of narratives shaping the events of her life. I argue that Aramburu’s character, like Cervantes’, is empowered to author her own narrative to contravene an undesired outcome. Furthermore, both female characters use dialogue to reject the common literary tendency towards Dulcineism and, through relational rhetoric, disregard conventional narratives in favor of creating their own: a remarkable choice for female characters, both then and now.

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