Francisco Arcellana

Francisco Arcellana

A Character Analysis of Belle and her Husband in Francisco Arcellana’s Divide by Two

(In which partitions are clarified.)


Theirs is apparently not a happy marriage, Belle and her husband’s. The bitterness within the context of their living together must be something almost akin to the relationship of Badoy and Agueda in Nick Joaquin’s May Day Eve for Belle and her husband live together but seem to inhabit different worlds apart from the home they share and the community in which they live. Inside themselves, a complex array of thoughts and emotions stir, torturing them all and complicating all their lives. Divide by Two by Francisco Arcellana is not just a peep into a moment of a married couple – it is a trickily structured short story, an artistic execution of the Iceberg Theory.

The story utilizes only one proper noun to address one of the important characters – Belle. But the story revolves around Belle, her husband and their couple neighbors. For better understanding and for clearer analysis, alphanumeric variables are used to stand for the other husband (X) and for his wife (Y). The focus is on Belle’s husband, the narrator of the story. By zeroing in on how he narrates the story, one takes a closer view of what really happens in their home, and what his real relationship with his wife is. Also, by understanding what he feels and thinks, one understands the meaning behind the title and the symbolisms manifested in the literary work.

The story is eighty percent dialogue consisting of mostly repetitive structure as regards to how Belle’s husband relates the story – I said, Belle said. Apparently, it wasn’t written to show who said what. The repetition gave itself away and that it wasn’t geared neither toward information nor clarification. Instead, it is to signify separation. They were two different beings, not united. Not one. Another example took place when he went to his room to get some clothes.
“He carried the blocks in the baggage...

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