San Manuel Bueno, Martyr

San Manuel Bueno, Martyr Essay Questions

  1. 1

    What does the lake of Valverde de Lucerna symbolize in San Manuel Bueno, Martyr?

    The lake of Valverde de Lucerna symbolizes Don Manuel's spiritual connection to the village. One of the first descriptions we get of Don Manuel is of the color of his eyes, which are a beautiful deep blue, like the waters of the lake. Throughout the story, we learn that the lake serves as a source of temptation for Don Manuel, who wishes to commit suicide due to his struggles in the village. Because the lake is both an object of beauty and of darkness, it perfectly encapsulates Don Manuel's complex, tethered relationship with the village of Valverde de Lucerna.

  2. 2

    Why does Lazaro grow to trust Don Manuel?

    At first, Lazaro distrusts Don Manuel because he assumes that Don Manuel is like all the other priests he's known: oppressive, backwards, and self-interested. However, he warms up to Don Manuel after seeing his bright, warm demeanor in person. Ultimately, it is Don Manuel's unflinching moral code, as well as his honest sense of duty towards religion, that wins Lazaro over to Don Manuel's side.

  3. 3

    What is Don Manuel's personal philosophy regarding religion?

    Don Manuel believes that the most important thing is for people to be happy in life. However, because of his atheism, he believes that if people knew the truth about the world—that is, that there is no God and no afterlife—it would be impossible for them to be happy. As such, Don Manuel sacrifices his life for the sake of his villagers, ensuring that they can live their life with the false comfort of a loving God.

  4. 4

    Why did Miguel de Unamuno choose to tell the story of San Manuel Bueno, Martyr through multiple narrators?

    Miguel de Unamuno creates psychic distance through multiple narrators to simulate the difficulty of reaching the ultimate truth in life. Because there are many potential avenues for misinformation while reading the nivola, be it through Don Manuel's secretive nature, Angela's failing memory, or the epilogical narrator's unspecified "edits," the reader is left not knowing what information is truly verifiable. Ultimately, Unamuno allows for the reader to choose what to believe based on faith, just as the characters in the nivola had to do.