University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


The prize-winning Bildungsroman, or coming-of-age novel, Nada ( 1944) by the Spanish writer Carmen Laforet, tells the story of eighteen-year-old Andrea, who, in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, fulfills her long awaited dream of traveling to Barcelona to study at its University. But the house on Aribau Street, where her relatives live, turns out to be a microcosm of Spanish social ills. It is filled with the spiritual, moral, physical and emotional decadence typical of Spain in the post-Civil War period of the 1940's, hence the title Nada [Nothing]. Thus Andrea arrives at Aribau, having the appearance of, as her uncle Roman describes her, "a disoriented little mouse, but not so unhappy as she looks" [una ratita despistada, pero no tan infeliz como parece]. Though perhaps disoriented, Andrea is not dispossessed, for it is she, as my essay will show, who in the end, not only manages to distance herself from the already mentioned decadence, but also becomes a son of psychological mother for those who reside at Aribau. My objectives for this essay are to examine this aspect of Andrea's character, which coupled with the crucial moment of psychological individuation experienced in adolescence, fit nicely into a prototypical structure that has been designated the "wilderwoman. "According to Jungian analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estes, "wilderwoman is the health of all women. Without her, women's psychology makes no sense. This wilderwoman is the prototypical woman ... no matter what culture, no matter what era, no matter what politic, she does not change" (Women Who Run With the Wolves 9-10). I began with a close reading of Nada in order to discover the salient characteristics of the structure and content of the narrative. Then, with the help of recent feminist approaches to female psychology, I explored my thesis regarding Andrea's psychological strength, discovering that this particular protagonist (from a specific culture, era, and politic) does indeed meet Pinkola Estes' description of the "wilderwoman."