“The knife, the knife! Damn the knife, damn all knives, damn the devil who created knives.”
Mother's hysterical outburst at the Bridegroom's innocuous announcement that he needs a knife to cut some grapes for lunch is the first sign of the violent culture in which Blood Wedding takes place. It is significant that Mother blames weapons for the murders of her husband and son, instead of the young men who killed them. This attitude is common among the older characters in Blood Wedding, and suggests that they do not recognize the causal relationship between their family conflict and the deaths of their children.
"We're all curious about what might hurt us."
Early in Act I, Mother uses this rationale to explain her curiosity about the Bride's relationship with the Felix family. However, the maxim could also be applied to much of the action in Blood Wedding--knowing about the Bride's past only makes her more appealing to the Bridegroom, and rather than avoiding conflict and allowing Leonardo's childhood crush to live her own life, the Felix family continues to watch what she does. Knowledge, then, is a kind of possession, a notion that helps explain the motivations of Felix and the Bridegroom to pursue the rivalry even when they have opportunities to make peace.
"Life--that's what they need more than anything else--life."
Again, Mother praises the supreme value of physical safety over happiness or material wealth. This is a function of both the violent society in which she lives, as well as of Mother's (perhaps excessive) concern for the safety of her offspring. Physical safety is a relatively basic need--the second lowest in Maslow's hierarchy, and something that many take for granted. The fact that it is so important to the Bride, the Mother, and the other characters in Blood Wedding suggests that one of the worst repercussions of the family vendetta is that it reduces the characters to animals, concerned only about their safety rather than personal or material advancement.
"I wish I were a man."
The Bride makes this remark after the Servant tells her she is as strong as a man. In this context, it suggests that the Bride wishes she were a man so that she could protect herself better--and in so doing, get the freedom and agency that comes with physical safety. It is a notable inversion of the Mother's wish that the Bridegroom were a girl, so he could stay at home and not risk his safety by going to town or to work in the vineyard.
“Ever since my own wedding day I’ve been asking myself night and day who was to blame. And I’m always finding somebody new to blame. ––Because somebody somewhere must be to blame.”
Leonardo's relationship with blame is oddly similar to that of the Bridegroom's Mother. Neither character can accept that bad things sometimes happen for no reason. The Bridegroom's Mother blames knives for the death of her husband and son, while Leonardo hunts fruitlessly for the party responsible for his unhappy love life. To the extent that Blood Wedding has a takeaway "message," it is that blame is not a useful way to explain or cope with tragedy, and indeed, it often makes circumstances even worse.
"A man with a horse knows plenty and can do plenty to run rings round a girl stuck in the middle of a desert. But I have my pride. And so now, I am getting married."
Here, the Bride articulates the reasons for her spiritual malaise. Between ignorance and geographical isolation, she has little freedom or power to choose her own destiny. In such a situation, the only way she can maintain her pride is by embracing marriage instead of doing it reluctantly.
"That boy will come to a bad end. The blood's no good."
It is worth examining the multiple meanings that are associated with blood over the course of the play. In Lorca's countryside, heritage and violence are inextricably linked, and Leonardo must deal with his family's bad reputation as well as his own short temper. Father's prescient comment suggests that Leonardo's fate is predestined, due to his own nature and that of his family. The question of how much the play's tragic ending is predestined and how much it is a result of the character's choices is one of the main tensions of Blood Wedding.
"Go. Go. Get after them. . . . No, don't go. That family's so ready to kill and so hardened to it -- but go, yes, go. I'll follow them."
This passage reveals Mother's central conflict. She clearly cares deeply for her son and wants him to have a safe and happy life, but she is also unable to let go of her grudge against the Felix family. At the beginning of the play, her protectiveness and her need for revenge were not mutually exclusive, but the marriage brings the conflict between the Bridegroom and Leonardo to a head, and in so doing, reveals the tenuousness of Mother's situation. It is never made explicit whether the Felixes are actually responsible for the deaths of the Bridegroom's father and brother, and this undercuts Mother's credibility when she claims that they are "so ready to kill and so hardened to it." Nevertheless, she clearly chooses revenge over her son's safety at the end of Act II, Scene 2, with disastrous consequences.
"They were deceiving themselves, but the blood couldn't be denied."
This ambiguous comment on the Bride's situation can be interpreted in multiple ways. Firstly, "the blood" could refer to the passionate love and attraction shared by the Bride and Leonardo; they were deceiving themselves by believing they could be happy with other spouses. However, "the blood" could also mean the reputation Leonardo's family has for violence, and particularly for feuding with the Bridegroom's family. In this interpretation, the Bridegroom's Mother and the Bride's Father are also implicated in the deception, for they declined to warn the Bridegroom about the Bride's relationship with Leonardo ahead of time.
"This knife / Left two men stiffening / With yellow lips. / It barely fits the hand / But slides in cold / Through startled flesh / Till it stops, there, / In the quivering / Dark / Roots / Of the scream."
Stylistically, this lyric is very different from others that have appeared in the play, with short, staccato lines that emphasize the suspense and shock of Mother's experiences in the previous night. The emphasis on color imagery ("yellow" and "Dark") in this excerpt as well as the lyric as a whole ties the passage to the rest of the scene, which also emphasizes stark, primary colors, from the white walls of the room to the girls' red wool.
Blood Wedding Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Blood Wedding is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The setting for Blood Wedding is in the 1930's, during the Spanish Civil War. More directly, the play was inspired by a sensational crime that Lorca read about in the Madrid daily ABC in 1928. In the farming village of Níjar, a young man had been...