Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Review on Dead Stars by Paz Marquez Benitez


“Yes it’s sad to belong to someone else when the right one comes along.” This song was running in my head while I was reading the story Dead Stars. Reading the story brought me mixed emotions: anger, sadness, excitement, confusion, etc. etc. I was not sure if I’ll feel sorry for Esperanza or Julia. However, in the end, I felt sorry, for, none other than the main character of the story, Alfredo.

Alfredo, at his 30’s had not yet married but engaged to Esperanza for 3 years. However, Esperanza patiently waited for Alfredo to set the table.

Alfredo met Julia Salaz just before he and Esperanza would get marry. He felt as if he would be much happier beside Julia. To make the long story short, he found himself caught up in the middle of a rock and hard place. He found himself falling in-love with Julia. However, Julia found out that he would be soon married to Esperanza. On the other hand, Esperanza felt the coldness of Alfredo. She knew why Alfredo was acting such way and told him that she is not blind to see what he was up to lately. He ended up marrying Esperanza still, as Julia already said goodbye to him and went back to her hometown.

Paz Marquez had shown the readers about how human can be so irrational and irresponsible at times. He had a good picture of how we can be careless at choosing relationships. We choose a person so quickly without analyzing if we really love them and will be happy with them for the rest of our lives. Then we see that time is running so fast and we are being left behind. Colors of the past will fade and we could not do anything to repaint it. We will wish that we could bring back our youth but we realize that we only have one life to spend.

I imagined myself as Esperanza, as I have been in a long relationship just like her. I admire how Paz had described her character. It’s as if I could see myself in her shoes. I wonder if I were her… Would I do the same? Probably yes, but if I could see that the man I’ll be marrying is not going to be happy with me, I’ll set him free.

Paz’s short story showed some Filipino traits like marrying at a certain age. In the first part of the story, his sister and father was talking about Alfredo who has not married yet at his age of 30. It’s as if he should be bothered a lot if he’s not yet marrying at his age. In the Philippines, as I could see, a lot of people marry at a young age. A Filipino or Filipina should marry and have children before turning 30 years old. While in western countries, 30 is the start of their best years, just like what the movie “13 going on 30” had shown. It does not matter if they still don’t have fiancĂ© at the age of 30. It doesn’t bother them a lot if they have not married yet. It also showed also some Filipino traditions like celebration of the Holy week. Paz showed how families spend time together in the church.

The story was written in the year 1925, when people less accepted broken engagement, marriages and families. In my opinion, the reason why Alfredo did not choose to go after Julia was because it was unacceptable at his time. In the 20th century, Filipinos have already learned to accept broken marriages or engagements; and I think if Paz had written this story in the 20th century, he would have written a different ending, and perhaps with a different title.

I was wondering why the title is Dead Stars. In the end, I realized its significance. It was entitled as such to symbolize memories of our youth.

‘Dead Stars’ means memories of the past flying in our heaven of thoughts. We sometimes look at them for a while and realize that it has already passed away… already dead. We could not bring back the real shine to normal.

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