Women at Odds: Female Antagonism and Collusion With Patriarchy in Dulce Chacón’s La Voz Dormida

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This article considers the intersection of the themes of female antagonism, internalized dominance—as defined by E.J.R. David and Gail Pheterson—and female collusion with patriarchy in the oppression of incarcerated women in Chacón’s La voz dormida (2002). Whereas many previous critics of the novel fittingly underscore the novelist’s portrayal of the political and psychological solidarity of the Republican female inmates in the Ventas prison, this paper proposes that the cases of female antipathy among the female characters of Chacón’s novel are symptomatic of, and helped contribute to, the Franco regime’s widespread oppression of women in the postwar years. By likening her female antagonists to men, Chacón portrays the fascist-sympathizing women of the novel as agents of patriarchy, but more importantly, as accomplices to terror and even genocide. Diverging from the work of previous scholars, the author posits that Chacón highlights the (double) subjugation of all females—Republicans and Nationalists, nuns/wardens, and prisoners, alike—who were expected to comply with orthodox gender roles and maledefined moral codes, or risk being branded as moral transgressors and, in specific cases, losing any semblance of power they thought they had. This article offers new interpretative possibilities for a popular and highly glossed text.


The definitive article is available on the Ciberletras website at: https://www.lehman.cuny.edu/ciberletras/index.php.

Ciberletras is made available through the efforts of faculty and staff at Lehman College (Bronx, NY).

Publisher Statement

Ciberletras is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the study of literature, cinema, and cultures of Latin America and Spain. It was founded in 1999 by Professors Cristina Guiñazu and Susana Haydu. Currently, the journal is edited by professors Marco Ramírez Rojas and Juan Jesús Payán.