A Character Analysis of Kerima Polotan Tuvera’s The Virgin
Kerima Polotan-Tuvera’s “The Virgin” is a short story that is centered on two characters namely Miss Mijares and The Carpenter. The title “The Virgin” reflects the subject virginity which is an important and cherished value for Filipinos. A Filipina should be proud to have maintained her virginity but in the case of the thirty-four-year-old Miss Mijares, she is ashamed of it. In her thirty-four years of existence, she had never been committed in a relationship. When she was younger, there had been other things to do and she never put love on top of her priorities. She had college to finish, a niece to put through school, and a mother to take care. Her duties became hindrances for her to be in a relationship. Miss Mijares’ childhood experiences and duties affected her personality.
Miss Mijares is a thirty-four-year-old woman who works at a job placement agency. The first encounter of the two characters is at the job interview. The way Miss Mijares treat him is as aloof and cold just like the way she treated her other interviewees. She looks at herself as superior which explains the impolite language she uses to communicate with them. According to the text “When she was younger, there had been other things to do-college to finish, a niece to put through school, a mother to care for.” Her childhood experiences affected the way she is now, it greatly affected her personality. According to the theory of Sigmund Freud namely Psychoanalytic Theory of Freud, a person’s childhood experience and unconscious mind contributes to his or her personality (Cherry).
The way Miss Mijares keep her distance from other people and the way she talk to them serve as a defense mechanism. Her unsociable manners coupled with frank and abrupt way of speech is a disguise for her loneliness. For nine years she dutifully looks out for the needs of her mother. For nine years she doesn’t think about her own happiness for she prioritizes her duty to take care of her parent. According to the text “But it had taken her parent many years to die. Towards the end, it had become a thankless chore, kneading her mother’s loose flesh, hour after hour, struggling to awaken the cold, sluggish blood in her dying body. In the end, she had died-her toothless, thin-haired, flabby-fleshed mother-and Miss Mijares had pushed against the bed in grief and also gratitude.” We can infer from the way she dedicated her early years to take care of her mother that she valued her family more than herself. She was really affected by the death of her mother whom she loved so much and it triggered the change in her personality. She exemplified her superiority as a woman.
“Miss Mijares did not look 34. She was slight, almost bony, but she had learned early how to dress herself to achieve an illusion hips and bosom. She liked poufs and shirrings and little girlish pastel colors.” According to this text, Miss Mijares knows how to make her look appealing to opposite gender. This is her way to deal with her loneliness. For thirty-four years she has not even touched a man. The way she behaves and deal with other people acts as a defense mechanism.
According to the Behavioral Theory, personality is based on the interaction between the individual and the environment which can be learned and unlearned (Cherry). Her bossy and indistinct manner of speech coupled with the way she dress acts as a defense mechanism to hide her depression. The “girlish pastel color” as stated in the story is also a way to hide her true feelings. She is ashamed of herself for still being a virgin at the age of thirty-four.
“And yet Miss Mijares did think of love.” It is stated in the text that Miss Mijares had short lived fantasies. She is still hoping that love will come her way someday. It suddenly happened when he met the carpenter. She is cold and distant at first but suddenly she is drawn to the man. It all started at the moment she saw the man holding her paperweight. It is a wooden block with a bird poised to flight. The paperweight was damaged with one wing tilted unevenly so the carpenter decided to fix it. The bird symbolizes freedom; it symbolizes the freedom of Miss Mijares. She lived in a system where virginity is something important and should be taken care of.
The problem is she is trapped in this system because at the age of thirty-four she is still a virgin who never touched a man. This will change because of the carpenter. She will be free like the bird in her paperweight fixed by the carpenter. She will be unwittingly attracted to the carpenter. She doesn’t like the way he talk without permission but it won’t change her feelings toward the man. When she learned that the foreman has only given him three peso but he is filling in for a four-peso job, she confronted the foreman right away. It not expected for her to be concerned because of her cold and distant way of treating him. A change in her personality can be seen and it is because of the carpenter.
Miss Mijares was emotionally attached to the carpenter. She was surprised and angry when she learned that the carpenter has a son. She thought the he is single and not committed. After learning that he was raising a child by a woman he is not married to, she notice everything else that is wrong with him-his crooked grin and defective front teeth. Her reaction proved that she is really in love with the carpenter. She doesn’t even notice his grin and tooth because of her infatuation. Miss Mijares rode again a jeepney that detoured again to avoid traffic but this time he is with the carpenter. It was raining and all of them were asked to get down the jeepney.
She noticed that there are no other people in sight but the two of them. Her emotion has gone wild for her young dreams have suddenly come to life. She turned to him with her ruffles wet and wilted. Out of her free-will, Miss Mijares has grabbed the opportunity for love. According to the Humanist Theory, a person’s free will and individual experience contribute to personality development (Cherry). Her feelings for him have changed her personality. She suddenly becomes more caring and concerned. Her personal emotion is the factor for the change in her personality.
The Virgin deals with the life of Miss Mijares. A daughter bounded by her duty. She lived in a society where virginity is something to take care of but at the age of thirty-four she is ashamed that she is still a virgin. Miss Mijares’ childhood experiences and duties affected her personality. The cold and distant personality coupled with a frank and abrupt manner of speech can be traced back in her early years. All of these serve as a defense mechanism to hide her depression. She developed a certain superior mentality that can be seen in the way she talks during interviews but all of these changed when the carpenter came into her life. The paperweight with a bird on it symbolizes freedom. Miss Mijares was now free from all her anxieties because of the carpenter who brought order in her life just like how he fixed the paperweight. Her loved for the carpenter brought the change in her life.