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Estember, Daniel John G.

Jane Lacuata

8 July

Literary Application: The Summer Solstice by Nick Joaquin

The short story The Summer Solstice by Nick Joaquin depicts the mid20th century status of women with respect to their position in the society and
the certain native tradition that contradicted such societal notion to the end
that women are the superior sex. Battle of the sexes is the theme of this
story by Nick Joaquin.
The story started on the third day of the Tadtarin Procession, which is
a three-day fertility ritual involving women and held during the summer. The
said day was also the St. Johns Day, a festival dedicated to St. John wherein
people wet each other with water. Doa Lupeng, who was roused out of the
bed by her children, heard a scream of a woman in the yard. She rushed to
the stables to see what happened and saw Entoy, their driver, in the stables.
She asked Entoy why Amanda, the latters wife, screamed, and assumed he
has been beating her again. When Lupeng went up to check on Amanda, she
noticed the latter acting strange, doing lewd things, and half naked. Lupeng
inquired to Entoy if Amanda had gone to the Tadtarin Festival despite her
prohibition. The latter affirmed and he also added that he could not do
anything but allow her, as Amanda should be allowed to do as she pleases,
otherwise, the grain would not grow, the trees would bear no fruit, the rivers
would give no fish, and the animals would die.
Doa Lupeng together with her husband, Don Paeng, and their children
proceeded to the celebration of St. Johns Day, which is dominated by men.
The day is bursting with heat and everyone is profusely sweating, which is
just perfect for the festival as the people threw water at each other to get
wet. Doa shared with her husband her feeling of distaste towards the men
who have been flaunting their bodies under the sun. She uttered that women
built mens poise, while Don Paeng showed amusement with his wifes
complaints. He then asked her if she saw his cousin Guido amidst the male
crowd who waved at them to get their attention.

Later at the grandfathers house, the young Guido had a discussion

with Lupeng, wherein the latter found him vulgar and suggestive. Guido also
shared that he attended the second night of Tadtarin procession and
pondered that in the Philippines, the culture before the time of the Spaniards
considered women as the superior sex. Due to the vulgarity and crudeness of
Guido, Lupeng summarily left. The moment Lupeng was about to leave, Guido
kissed the tip of her shoes. This alarmed her and she stared at him while
walking away.
On their way back home, Lupeng and Paeng discoursed about the
manner of young men as proven by the acts of Guido and the men during the
St. Johns Festival. Paeng affirmed that men in the proceeding generation are
embarrassing. When Paeng made advances to his wife, as they are alone in
the house. Lupeng without any reaction proposed to go to the Tadtarin ritual.
Paeng did not want her wife to go to such ritual as he heard that women who
attend at the same go wild. After an argument, Paeng concededly acquiesced
to her decision of going.
On that night many women ran wildly into the ritual. Lupeng also
followed to join the orgy, but Paeng while holding her forbade her to go.
Lupeng was so insistent and ran into the dancing group. Paeng followed her
but later lost sight of her.

The women noticed him and he was beaten

helplessly. When they got home, Paeng was about to whip Lupeng, but she
cried and uttered Paeng brought it to himself. Paeng upon realizing that it was
useless to beat his wife, told her that he loves, respects, and adores her so
much. In the end Paeng kissed the foot of Lupeng, manifesting his submission
to his wife.
In evaluating the short story The Summer Solstice by the known writer
and novelist Nick Joaquin using the standard provided by Paz Latorena in her
essay Educating the Literary Taste, would the former pass the ideal literary
piece envisioned by Latorena? Latorena provided three literary values, which
served as the standard in determining whether a literary piece ought to
develop the literary taste of a reader.
The first literary value is the intellectual value. According to Latorena,
this refers to the value of the literary piece, which makes the reader think to

some purpose to the end that his mental capacity is enriched and broadened.
In short, it is the value that develops the intellectual capacity of a reader. In
the story The Summer Solstice, the issue raised is about the battle between
the two sexes. Since the Philippine society is basically patriarchal, women are
often restricted to express their opinions. The story, however, showed that
women are some way are superior over men. It is evident in their
reproductive role. And this fact helps the reader see the different side of the
issue, and challenges him to think outside the box. Also, in the story, it was
mentioned that before the coming of the Spaniards, women are actually
superior in the native culture. Lastly, there is the presence of paradox in the
last part, where Paeng kissed the feet of Lupeng. It seems that Paengs
submission to his wife is somewhat a part of adoring or worshipping her, but
in reality, it was due to his unwavering love to his wife that he made such
The second literary value is the emotional value. This refers to whether
or not the literary piece or composition appeals to the emotion of the reader.
Needlessly to say, to express or to arouse emotion is the first requirement
every literary piece should have. In every corner of the subject story,
emotional appeal is apparent. The unwavering love of the husband to his wife
is so evident especially in the last part where Paeng submitted to Lupeng and
kissed her feet instead of beating her to express resentment on what
happened to him. It was also manifested when he acquiesced to her demand
of going to the Tadtarin ritual and when she showed disgust over the males
during the St. Johns festival
The third literary value is ethical value. This basically it is determining
whether or not the literary piece passed the ethical standard, what is right
and what is wrong. Although determining what is right and what is wrong,
what is moral and what is not, is very hard as the terms themselves are
ambiguous, it would be best to base such ethical standard to the standard of
authors community, which is the Philippines. The story, in my point of view
passed the standard, despite the subtle narration of some lewd parts. Why?
First, because the story does not, at the very least, stimulate the imagining of
things that are immoral. Second, what it tries to convey is the truth in the
conflict between the sexes and not obscenity. By not appealing to the

prurient interest and having a truth-value, the said story is ethical. The
purpose of the author is not show the lewd for the sake of lewdness, but for
the sake of educating the mind of the reader regarding the topic of the story.
Moreover, those lewd parts are not even described using obscene words or
vivid descriptions, but rather in a subtle narration.
Overall, the short story The Summer Solstice by Nick Joaquin passed
the literary taste standard provided by Latorena. The values which overall
define a good literary composition or piece is manifest in the short story.
Aside from such, Nick Joaquin successfully conveyed his message regarding
the conflict between masculinity and femininity, tendency of human nature,
and the image of a woman who is to be loved and respected, not worshipped.
The last one, which was presented as a paradox in the story, was actually
what made it so appealing. The hidden message that Joaquin wanted to
impart to the readers. The conflict that made Paeng to choose to submit to
his wife was not because he worships her, but because he loves her so much.

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