Power struggle and systematic oppression as reflected in twentieth-century Spanish and Latin American novels.
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Lassiter, Lindsay N., 1995-
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This thesis examines three novels: Sonata de otoño (1903) by Ramón del Valle-Inclán, Los santos inocentes (1981) by Miguel Delibes, and El indio (1935) by Gregorio López y Fuentes to identify the similar socioeconomic structures they present. By applying postcolonial theory, we determine that the abuse suffered by the members of the lower class are a result of a longstanding oppressive socioeconomic system that maintains the privilege of the rich. In the earliest novel, Ramón del Valle-Inclán presents a decadent social structure through which he critiques a stagnant and unproductive nobility, and their mutually beneficial relationship with members of the Catholic Church. The victims of this structure are the poor servants and peasants, who are only allowed to enter the spaces of the rich to serve them. Miguel Delibes depicts a similar structure, within which the poor live in appalling conditions in a small shack on the rural estate of a rich family. He establishes the same relationship between the Church and the elite, who systemically oppress the poor. Gregorio López y Fuentes depicts the systemic subjugation of a rural indigenous community by an urban elite class in Mexico. The blancos and mestizos use fear to reinforce the same pillars of power that reinforce society in the two Spanish novels: the Catholic Church and the small upper class. El indio proves to be the obvious choice for the application of postcolonial theory, but all three novels demonstrate an unequal distribution of power and wealth, which results in a small dominant class locking the poor masses into a position of servitude.