The Bridegroom announces to his Mother that he is going out to the vineyard. She urges him to bring along a lunch, but he brushes her off, promising to eat some grapes when he gets there. He does however ask for a knife to cut grapes from the vine, which sends Mother into a fit of hysterics: “Damn the devil who created knives,” (1) she cries.
The Bridegroom is irritated but tries to calm Mother down, to no avail. She continues to wail about the harm that knives and pistols can do to good people. It slowly becomes clear that the Bridegroom’s father and his brother both died violently, and their murderers are now in prison. Mother is upset because she worries that the Bridegroom will be next.
Mother announces that she wishes the Bridegroom were a girl, so that he would stay home with her instead of roaming the countryside. He suggests that it might ease her nerves to come with him, but she declines, explaining that there is no use for an old woman in the vineyard. The topic shifts to the Bridegroom’s fiancée, whom Mother distrusts even though she knows that his fiancée is “a good girl ... Modest. Hardworking.” (3)
Mother comments sadly that she will be all alone after the Bridegroom marries his fiancée and moves away from home. The Bridegroom urges her to come live with him and his wife, but she insists on staying at the farm, so she can be close to the graves of her husband and son. She worries that if she moves away from the farm, the townspeople will bury one of “that Felix lot” (4) near the dead father and son, which would be a disgrace to their memory.
Mother interrogates the Bridegroom about the Bride, wondering aloud whether she had a boyfriend when she first met the Bridegroom. Once again, the Bridegroom brushes off her concerns, remarking that “a girl has to look hard before she says yes” (4). Finally, Mother comes around, promising to give the Bride her heirloom brass earrings and the Bridegroom enough money for three new suits. The Bridegroom happily leaves.
A Neighbour drops by to visit Mother, who no longer goes to town very much. She tells Mother about a horrible industrial accident, in which a town boy, Rafael, lost both of his arms. Mother announces that the Bridegroom has recently bought his own vineyard, questions the Neighbour about her son’s fiancée. According to the Neighbour, the Bride is “a fine young woman” (6) who lives on the outskirts of town with her father. The Bride’s mother is dead, but when she was alive had a reputation for being very proud and not truly loving her husband. This disconcerts Mother, and the news only gets worse: When she was fifteen and he was eight, Leonardo Felix had a crush on the Bride. He ended up marrying the Bride’s cousin, and the whole affair is mostly forgotten now.
Mother is deeply upset by the Bride’s ties to the Felix family, no matter how tenuous. However, the Neighbour counsels her not to tell her son and interfere with his happiness, and she reluctantly agrees.
The first scene of Blood Wedding includes important exposition, revealing information about the personalities of Mother and the Bridegroom, as well as the conflict between the Bridegroom’s family and the Felixes. However, little of this information is told explicitly; rather, the characters allude to their situation and the audience is left to infer the meaning of their comments. This means that although we learn about the vendetta, we do not know the reasons behind it, a situation that mirrors the feelings of the Bridegroom and the younger generation, who are condemned to perpetuate their parents’ vendettas simply out of inertia.
This generational conflict manifests itself in the Bridegroom’s conversation with his mother. He tries to solve her problems, from her concerns about his safety in the vineyard, to her fear of being lonely after he moves out, but she rejects his attempts because change is ultimately more frightening to her than even the Felix family.
Similarly, the Bridegroom’s apparent power over daily life—he decides how he will spend his time and controls the family finances—belies the fact that Mother still holds the key to a successful relationship. He can only be happy with the Bride if the older generation is willing to put aside their vendetta, but this is impossible because of their aversion to change.
With the exception of Leonardo Felix, none of the speaking roles in Blood Wedding have names. Given that they have quirky, well-developed personalities, Lorca’s choice not to name his characters may seem counterintuitive. However, the lack of names invites the audience to identify more closely with the characters, and gives them a universality that makes the play more appealing to audiences in a society where blood vendettas are rare and events like those in Blood Wedding are inconceivable.
Furthermore, Lorca’s decision to name the Felix family but not the Bride or Bridegroom’s family means that it is perhaps easier to identify with these protagonists; because they are named, the Felixes become the Other—which reflects how they are seen by the Bride and the Bridegroom. By encouraging audiences to identify and “root for” one side in the conflict, Lorca makes the emotions visceral and downplays the absurdity of the blood vendetta. Although we are never allowed to forget the pointlessness and senseless violence that this family conflict has caused, we can also understand why the characters choose to perpetuate it rather than simply making peace.