Leni Zumas

Date of Award

Winter 2-20-2014

Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Creative Writing



Physical Description

1 online resource (ii, 80 pages)


Motherhood -- Spain -- 20th century -- Fiction, Childbirth -- Spain -- 20th century -- Fiction, Grief -- Spain -- 20th century -- Fiction




Quiet Little Animals is a novel set in early-1940s Spain. The story begins with a young couple, Carmen and Ernesto, who are expecting their first child. Carmen gives birth to their daughter Isadora in a Catholic hospital, but when she wakes up after the birth, she's told that the baby has died. However, the truth is that the baby was kidnapped by the nun Sor Eugenia, who decided that she would provide the baby with a better life by sending her away to be adopted by a more "proper" family - and a young religious woman named Ava finally gets the baby she's been trying for years to have, her little Maria.

The story follows the four main point-of-view characters - Carmen, Ernesto, Sor Eugenia and Ava - as their lives move past that moment when Isadora/Maria was taken from one family and given to another. In addition to the four main points of view, there are also a number of chapters that are told in the form of fairy tales. The use of multiple points of view to tell one story allows each of the characters to have a known stake in the outcome of the narrative, and is a major stylistic interest of the piece. The central themes of the book are motherhood, grief, birth and death. It also asks questions about the creation of family, fate, and the aftermath of civil war.


This thesis is only available to students, faculty and staff at PSU.

Persistent Identifier