My last year in high school, I read a play titled Los Bicicletas Son para el Verano. The play is written entirely in Spanish, and I had a very hard time reading it. The story follows a middle-class family during the Spanish Civil War, and the youngest son in the family. At the beginning, the boy has a very simple request: a bicycle. However, as the play goes on, the family postpones the purchase of the bicycle, until ultimately, both the boy and the reader/viewer realize that the bicycle will probably never be purchased, much like how the boy’s childhood will never be regained.
It’s a sad story, but a story that needs to be told. Many times, we forget that actual people were involved in and affected by the historical events that we study. I’m going to Spain this summer, as I’ve said in previous blog posts, and I still haven’t decided if I want to visit the Civil War memorials. Spanish people generally do not like talking about the war because it’s still so fresh, and its effects are still being felt today. The people who frequent war monuments are typically elderly, and were sympathizers of Franco. One thing that really interests me is the impact that wars have on the middle and lower classes, especially considering that those in power and those with money are often those who write history. I want to learn more about the Spanish Civil War, but I’ll mostly be taking language classes while I’m there, so I’ll have to settle for reading more books about it, and trying to glean as much information about it as I can from my host family and other Spaniards that I come across.