Identity, and Its Fragmentation, in 'Nada' College

In Carmen Laforet’s Nada, the orphan Andrea arrives in Barcelona full of optimism about her new life in the city. Many critics claim that the novel is a ‘bildungsroman’, a coming-of-age story where the protagonist, an adolescent, matures into adulthood and finds her identity. However, surrounded by a family characterized by fragmentation in the decadence of post-war Spain, it is arguable that Andrea is unable to find a stable, secure identity and leaves the city with the same childish naivety with which she arrived.

There is a sense of repression of true identity throughout the novel, which changes form as the plot develops. The book is split into three distinct parts, the first of which ends with the departure of Angustias to the convent. In this first part, it seemed as thought Andrea’s aunt was the main barrier separating her from the possibility of independence and maturity and also the force that inflicted feelings of anxiety and guilt onto herself. Although Andrea arrived in Barcelona hoping to lead the liberated life of a university student, as soon as she arrived at the Calle Aribau she met with a sort of prison, full of fragmented characters whose repressed desires and drives had driven them to darkness, violence and...

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