First Advisor

Cynthia A. Sloan

Term of Graduation

Spring 2000

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Spanish


Foreign Languages




Autobiography in literature, Spanish literature -- 20th century, Martín Gaite, Carmen Cuarto de atrás -- Criticism and interpretation



Physical Description

1 online resource (75 pages)


This thesis examines the notion of autobiography as presented in Carmen Martin Gaite's novel El cuarto de atras. I propose that the novel is intended not to be read as a straightforward autobiography, rather, the reader is invited to consider the autobiographical elements that function on various levels within a fictional mode. Although events from the author's childhood and adolescence are included in the novel, they are recounted through the use of a fictional protagonist.

By analyzing the narratological fabric that comprises the text, I show how the framework of the fictional mode provides a background for the various autobiographical themes that are addressed over the course of the novel. Among these themes are reflections on the horrors and of the Spanish Civil War, the implications of the subsequent Franco regime, and society's treatment of women during that era. I also show how the fictional mode also allows the author to address the significance of the human imagination as a vital component of the self, as she uses the imagination as a coping mechanism against the harsh realities she was forced to deal with during her childhood.

In my analysis of this text I will also demonstrate that by incorporating factual events in a fictional mode, the author creates an inherently complex narrative that relies heavily on the dialogue between the narrator and her interlocutors. This dialogue plays a vital role in the development of an internal monologue, as the narrator struggles to order her thoughts and articulate her memories. The narrator's internal development is thus brought to the foreground and is juxtaposed with the external events of Spanish society. Throughout this thesis, it will become apparent that the notion of autobiography helps to bring significance to the text in that it not only serves as the key underpinning of the text, but brings clarity to the ambiguities of the fictional mode as well.


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