Analysis of Nick Joaquin's Short Stories

Categories: Short Story

The story happened during the St. John's Day, Doña Lupeng finds Amada in a state of madness and ecstasy after the latter attended the local ritual of Tadtarin , where the womendance and invoke the spirit to empower them. And then they went to the house of their.

Setting and Conflicts


Since the story takes place in the 1850s, women were repressed and felt shut in. Lupeng may seem to be happy in her routine life, but she also feels angry.

You can notice this when she states to the children “Hush, hush I implore you! Now look: your father has a headache, and so have I. So be quiet this instant — or no one goes to Grandfather.” It indeed sounds like she feels as though she has a duty that she must carry on but she gets annoyed at her family because of her subdued state of womanhood. Although she tries act horrified when Guido tells of her woman should be adored rather than beneath their husbands, she contemplates and realizes she wants to be the leader of the pack.

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External and Internal Conflicts

The stereotypes of masculinity and feminine traits run rampant in the story. Women are supposed to look after their husbands and children while the husbands work and wait for their supper. Not only is this seen in the story but in daily life as well, which makes the story shocking to readers since it is about women wanting to be free. Lupeng shatters the concept of the suppressed woman when she gains control of her husband, who kisses her feet at the end of story.

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This makes it seem as though the internal conflict was that women are the ones who want to be the rulers of men, as seen in the Tatarin festival.

Themes and Symbolism

Main Theme: St. John’s and Tatarin Festivals – The St. John’s festival is about men and their fertility, which seems quite vulgar to Lupeng and makes her start to realize how she wishes women could be seen in the same way. The Tatarin festival is the exact opposite, showing women as leaders of fertility since they carry children. This festival is the last trigger to make Lupeng feel as though she is stronger than a man and deserves adoration.


  • Anastacia
  • Agueda
  • Agueda’s daughter
  • Don Badoy Montiya
  • Voltaire – the grandson


  • Life is always full of regret, for we always realize what we have when it is gone. Love was blinded and it turned into hatred
  • Love cannot be based on passion alone.


External conflict, Man vs. Man. We can see that Agueda and Badoy after having a bad married life with each other, used to regret the past that they’ve been together and it is revealed with their hatred for each other and how Agueda used to describe the devil to her granddaughter as if it was Badoy and same way as Badoy describing the witch in the mirror to his grandson as if it was Agueda.



The story happened in the year of 1847 and it has a little blend of horror and fiction because of the superstitious belief of fortune telling as well as the devil and witch that will come out in the mirror if everything in the ritual will go wrong.


Agueda and Badoy’s bitter marriage all began on that May night. Agueda and Badoy are two, completely different people. Agueda is a girl ahead of her time. She is bold and liberated unlike most girls her age. She stands out from the broad range of followers of her era. The tragedy is when Badoy’s heart forgets how much he felt for Agueda. The tragedy is how both were not careful enough to mend their drifting marriage. Both Badoy and Agueda perceived their marriage to be a taste of hell. Instead of admitting that they saw their spouses in the mirror, they claimed that it was the witch/devil they saw for that was probably how each of them was to each other during their life together. Their contrasting attributes perhaps were what brought them together. But it could also have been the root of the bitterness that concluded their time together.

Badoy harked back to the time ´of the girl who had flamed so vividly in a mirror one wild May Day midnight, long, long ago and refreshed his memory of how she had bitten his hand and fled which surprised his heart in the instant of falling in love with Agueda. But it has been a while and time has healed the wounds of their relationship. The old love that was blinded by hatred which brought pain has now resurfaced. The tragedy is that it is too late. It is good that Badoy can live in the sweet past he and Agueda had but it is sad that Agueda never found out how much she really meant to Badoy all this time. She died not knowing that what she and Badoy had was real. The love didn’t go away. It was just covered up in the dust of time.


Life is always full of regret, for we always realize what we have when it is gone. For Badoy and Agueda Montiya, they both lived and loved with hate, resentment, regret, but as the story ends, Badoy realized how he wasted his time with Agueda, how he could have loved her, so much more than he did. He realized that he became the devil in Agueda’s life, as she became the witch in his life as well. In the end, they both blamed the superstition of May Day Eve. We must not put our lives in the conviction of fortune tellers and superstitious beliefs because I believe that half of our fate depends on how we do things and how we value them. Because some beliefs are not been proven and it may lead our lives into something that we are not supposed to be in. Fate is defined in the dictionary as an inevitable and often adverse outcome, condition, or end. The story is set under the assumption that the main characters in the story both believe in superstition, as well as fate. They believed that for they saw each other in the mirror that fated night, which they are bound to be with each other. They chose to see the worst, but in the end, it can be seen that they were in love. The worst in each other only came out when they chose to see it that way, because we all know that happiness comes out whenever we choose to be happy.

MAY DAY EVE Characters


  • Boys – good looking, drunk, arrogant, proud of themselves, elegant and Aggressive
  • Girls – excited, struck and amused by the guests, weak, a little mean and are afraid of witches
  • Anastasia – old woman, who is so obedient to her mistress, accused for being a witch and believes in superstitious beliefs
  • Agueda – pretty, young woman who is so curious, hardheaded, brave and very much willing to know her future husband
  • Badoy Monitiya – a vain good looking man who will do everything to get what he wants and revengeful
  • Dona Agueda – old lady who has gray hair, full of sentiments, emotional and Resentful
  • Dona Agueda’s daughter – a vain curious girl, who is persistent to know about the past of her mother
  • Don Badoy Monitiya – a great lover, emotional and full of sentiment old man, who repents for what he has done to Agueda
  • Voltaire – Believe in superstitious belief and was like his grandma who at an early age want to know who will he marry


  • Genre: Saga--about fifty years of history and upheaval coming to a head.
  • Premise: A self-sufficient and tightly-knit group of friends, united since childhood by a sense of exile from the Philippines, is threatened by the arrival of a mother and daughter from the homeland only one of them has ever seen.
  • Characters: Five young "exiles" just coming of age, for whom homeland and birthplace were never the same thing. An old man haunted by the past and an old woman fighting to escape it. A husband torn between his wife and his first lover, her mother. A woman who claims to have two navels. Setting: Hong Kong of the late 1950s. A Catholic monastery on the eve of the Feast of the Chinese Moon. Manila during the transition from Spanish rule to American rule, and through both World Wars. A Visayan plantation where the decades pass and yet nothing changes. Tirad Pass, where everything changed.
  • Themes: Home and exile. The choice between good and evil. The paying of old debts and the cost of saving a single soul. And although you might miss it if you blink, also the making of a priest.
Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Analysis of Nick Joaquin's Short Stories. (2016, May 09). Retrieved from

Analysis of Nick Joaquin's Short Stories essay
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