"Más calor que nunca": Alfonso Sastre's Rhetoric of Silence through Weather in La mordaza (1954)

Although apparently lost on the censors during the Nationalist Regime, the critique of Spanish society and Francisco Franco’s dictatorship stands out clearly in every scene of Alfonso Sastre’s La mordaza (1954). Critics have noted the symbolic imagery of the title, as the father of the Krappo family, Isaías, rules over his family members with an iron fist and bullies them into silence, effectively “gagging” them from denouncing him as a murderer. Many have analyzed Isaías as dictator of the family, the personal mordazas of each character, and the character dynamics as the family ties break down. This study examines how Sastre uses the setting of his drama and especially the weather to create his own rhetoric of silence that loudly condemns the imposed silence of post-war Spain. The stage directions and the family describe the weather as if it were another character, a tangible representation of everything that must be left unsaid because of the despotic atmosphere of the home. The oppressive heat reigns for most of the play, the booming thunder parallels the exploding tension between family members, and the creeping cold of fall portends death and serves as the only topic of conversation the family members will discuss after their trauma. The focus on weather give Sastre an indirect way to criticize the state of affairs in his country, allowing this play and his message to pass through rigorous censorship and reach the public.

Track: 

  • Spanish Peninsular Studies