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The Ironic Dominance of ID in a Distraught Father in Manuel Arguilla’s "Rice"
Manuel Arguilla’s short story “Rice” (1938) presents readers with a plot of events that reflects two literary approaches. One is the psychoanalytic perspective, where three divisions of the psyche dominate or interact in the development of the story. One division is the id, which is the part of the psyche that is completely unconscious and is the source of psychic energy derived from instinctual needs and drives. The second division is the ego, which is the organized conscious intermediary between the person and reality, especially in that it functions both in the perception of reality and in adapting to reality. Finally, it is the superego, which is the part of the psyche that is only partially conscious, that represents the internalization of parental conscience and the rules of society, and that functions to reward and punish through a system of moral attitudes, conscience, and guilt. A second literary approach could be a Marxist perspective which says that a work of literature can contain lessons about the impact on our lives of the immorality and common indecency of the wealthy classes who have the right to manage and control our economic system.
The story begins with Mango Pablo, an old farmer from Hacienda Consuelo, who is on his way home looking for his family to report his mischief due to today’s harvest. Osiang, the wife of his good friend Andres, meets him as he comes out of their hut. Due to her old age, Mang Pablo tries to inform Osiang about the day’s harvest as she is caught pounding the mortar. Meanwhile, Osiang rants about the immorality of the people of Hacienda Consuelo so that the lower class people who settled there pay a fine of five 1cavanes rice for a handful of snails they would get in the stream. Mang Pablo again tries to inform Osiang that there is no rice for that day.
The story shifts to a flashback of what happened in the morning when he, Mang Pablo, along with the other tenants of Hacienda Consuelo went to Senora’s house to borrow grain. Unfortunately for him and his farmer comes the announcement from 2manager from bags of rice. The notice says that the five sacks of rice to be borrowed that day will become ten at harvest time. This news terribly surprises Mango Pablo and the other farmers, who claim that they have always borrowed 3tertiohane so four cavanes rice for six. After that, senora he comes out with a cane beating the polished floor as he threatens the farmers with the news that every bag of rice harvested that day will be loaded onto trucks and delivered to the city; so the tenants will definitely starve.
The story shifts back to the present with Osiang still forgetting that there is no rice for that day and offering Mang Pablo coal from her stove. Mang Pablo tries again to inform Osiang of the terrible news, but she returns to pounding her little stone mortar.
After some time, Osianga’s husband arrives and meets Mang Pablo. Mang Pablo insists on stopping Andres and his fellow farmers’ plan to steal the rice and kill the loaders, but Andres is determined. They argue about the consequences of their plan. Mang Pablo comments on moving to 4Bilibid if they continue with their plan. Andres answers and says there will be rice in Bilibid. Mang Pablo again insists on what they would gain if they go through with their plan. Andres responds by saying that the rice is for their wives and their children.
After Andres and Osiang leave, his family arrives along with a security guard. The watchman approaches Mang Pablo and informs him of the offense—picking snails from the stream—that his family has committed, and of the fine they must pay. Then they go home. Sabel, the daughter of Mango Pablo, repeatedly cries to her father from hunger. After wondering what to do with his dire situation, Mang Pablo grabs his bolo, walks out of their hut, and goes to Andres, who is standing silently at him by the broken fence.
As already mentioned, the story of “Rice” can be viewed from two literary perspectives. One of them is the Marxist perspective. In the story, senora in Hacienda Consuelo he represents the rich people who oppressed the powerless people represented by Mang Pablo, his family and his fellow farmers. The senoraThe introduction of the rich oppressor is hinted at when he emerges from his mansion with a cane that beats on the porch floor. The stick has both positive and negative connotations. However, in the story, the stick symbolizes negativity – it was a tool used to beat or cause pain.
Señora came out her cane beat a quick tattoo on the polished porch floor…
The story also reflects the situation of repression and manipulation of workers by their owners. Obviously, the announcement of five borrowed bags of rice will become ten at harvest time. Mang Pablo and his fellow farmers kept repeating that they were always borrowing tertiohane i.e. four bags of rice become six. They insisted that 5takipan – five bags for ten – is too much.
“Five becomes ten,” said the encargado, “Either that or you don’t get any rice.”
“See those trucks?” she finished and pointed to three big red trucks under the mango tree in the yard. “If you don’t take the rice today, trucks will take every bag in sight to town tonight. Then I hope you’re all starvingyou ungrateful beast!”
The story also depicts the value of things for their utility in society. For the downtrodden (Mang Pablo and the other farmers), rice is something that humble people value and use to satisfy their hunger for food. For the oppressors (Señora and authority), they value rice because it symbolizes that they have a high social status and have the power to control lower class people. The context of this literary work remains in line with the ideology that rice is a staple food for everyone to satisfy hunger and symbolizes social status and power in society.
An overlapping literary approach to this story, alongside a Marxist approach, would be a psychoanalytic view. As noted, the psychoanalytic approach includes the roles of the three divisions of the psyche—the id, the ego, and the superego—in a literary work. There is an interplay of these three divisions involved in Arguilla’s “Rice” in terms of how he narrates each event in the story. It begins with Mang Pablo subduing his ego as he accepts the fact that he will forever be a low man who will serve the people in power.
Although not stated, Osiang’s constant and unknowing disregard of Mang Pablo’s message that there will be no rice could indicate that Mang Pablo accepts his current situation of living in a place dominated by people of superiority, i.e. complete ignorance of the high social class. low social class people like them.
“Andres is talking to some men at the Elis house. Osiang, do you know where Sebia and the kids are?”
“Why doesn’t he come home? He knows I’ve been waiting all day for the rice he brought home! I’m so hungry I can’t even pull my bones off the stove. What is Elis, the shameless, good-for-nothing son of a whore, doing in the house?“
Pablo moved away from the fence and stumbled a little as long blades of grass got in his way. “There’s no rice, Osiang,” he called wheezing over his shoulder. but the woman evidently did not hear him, for she continued to speak: “Mang Pablo, how many cavanes of rice did you borrow?..”
“There is no rice, Osiang,” he whispered. He felt too tired and weak to raise his voice…
The following sentence taken from the selection indicates that Mang Pablo succumbs to being a humble servant to the people at Hacienda Consuelo when he could no longer bring himself to tell Osiang the bad announcement.
Pablo looked at her and wanted to tell her again that there was no rice, but he couldn’t bring himself to…
In the middle of the story, Mang Pablo is controlled by his superego against his fellow farmers’ plan to steal the sacks of rice they have carefully harvested and a likely chance to kill the loaders. This is evident in the story when his fellow farmer Andres arrives home to his wife Osiang.
“Are you coming with us?” Pablo asked, his voice cracking harshly in his throat as he tried to speak softly. There was a wild, desperate look in his small eyes that Pablo had a hard time meeting.
“Don’t be crazy, Andres” he said, clearing his throat to clear his throat and trying to look calm…
“What can you do, Andres?” he said. “You say you will stop the trucks bringing rice into town. That will be a robbery.“
Ultimately, Manga Pablo’s psyche was dominated by his ID. After a security guard approaches him along with his wife and children and tells him that his family has been violated by violence, Mang Pablo considers how to find payment for violating his family and how to find food to support his family. His daughter Sabel repeatedly comes and mumbles her hunger for food to him. By that night, he decides to succumb to his id – he decides to go with Andres and their fellow farmers in a plan to steal and kill the loaders of the rice they harvested that morning.
The piece of wood eventually broke, leaving Pablo with a short stump in his hands. He looked at it, sobbed with rage and weakness, then ran crying into the hut:Give me my bolo, Sebie, give me my bolo. We will have food tonight.“
After this scene, Sebia tries to stop Mang Pablo who succumbed to their plan. Mang Pablo’s superego connects with his id at some point, leading him to his indecisiveness.
“God save me,” Pablo said brokenly. He raised his knees, put his face between them, and wept like a child…
Outside, the darkness thickened. Pablo chose a path through the tall grass in the yard. He stopped to look back at his house…
Mang Pablo’s latest action shows that he has finally let his ID take over.
He tightened the belt of the heavy bolo around his waist. Pulling his old buri hat tightly over his head, he joined Andres, who was waiting by the broken fence. in silence they dated together…
“Rice” is a story written by Manuel Arguilla that depicts the way of life of the farmers who are under the supervision of the superiors at Hacienda Consuelo. It talks about how rice marks the difference between the two classes because to have rice is to have high social status and power. Oppressors (represented by senora) to use their authority (to claim the rice harvested by the farmers) to win over the humble people (the oppressed, Mang Pablo and his fellow farmers). It also tells how one problem can lead a person to commit a heinous crime out of desperation, which was shown when Mang Pablo joined his farmers in committing crime for the survival of him and their families.
1cavanes – one cavanes of rice is equal to one bag of rice (fifty kilos of rice)
2encargado – one who carries loads or sacks of rice from sleds to trucks
3tersiohan – loan system among Filipinos where four sacks of rice are paid for six
4Bilibid – Filipino term for “jail” or “prison”
5takipan – loan system among Filipinos, where ten are paid in five bags of rice (the amount to be borrowed is doubled at harvest time)
Arguilla, ME 1998. How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife and Other Stories. Manila: De La Salle University Press, Inc.
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