Rethinking the Man in Black: The Unconscious as a Mechanism in El cuarto de atrásElizabeth Sotelo
This study offers new thoughts on the ambiguous presence of the man in black in the novel El cuarto de atrás (1978), by the Spanish writer Carmen Martín Gaite, Throughout the text, we have the uncertainty of not knowing if the man in black really exists, if he is a mental creation of the protagonist C., or if, indeed, any of the dialogue is trustworthy. Martín Gaite employs the enigmatic presence of the man in black to produce uncertainty throughout the plot. Based on this ambiguity, we seek to provide a new rethinking of the representation of the man in black. It is established that the man is a mechanism of the protagonist C., to guide her in her search to overcome her fears rooted in her turbulent past. Following the theoretical concept of Sigmund Freud, we seek to argue that, within an abstract dream, the unconscious of the protagonist is depicted in the shape of the man in black. It is only through the personification of her unconscious how C. examines her past, explores her present, and exhibits social and political criticism. She defeats her fears, reconstructs herself, and obtains a narrative for the book she is writing.