Story Review: “Footnote to Youth,” a short story by Jose Garcia Villa
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and my Facebook wall has been flooded with stuff related with my student’s crush, their amazing boyfriend or awesome girlfriend. My student’s age brackets are from 16 to 21 years old, and yet, some of them invest so much of their time on building romantic relationship towards the opposite gender rather than give it to their studies and families.
I also feel sorry whenever I meet some former students who did not continue their studies in college but instead get pregnant early. Despite the guidance provided by their parents and teachers, they still took the path that somehow spoiled their youth.
The short story “Footnote to Youth” by Jose Garcia Villa is one of the literary pieces that I enjoyed reading the most. It mirrors the life cycle of a man depending on the decision he came up to. Thus, it is necessary to include this literary piece not only for high school students to study but also for those in tertiary level.
By reading closely the story, we can spot symbolisms carefully crafted to metaphorically compared the setting of the story to the life of Dodong, the main character. The story started with this line “The sun was salmon and hazy in the west”, was an implied comparison to Dodong being in-love. It was patterned after the color of a salmon that is pinkish-orange to light pink. Indeed, being in love gives a connotation that everything around that person glows, everything is good and everything is beautiful. On the other hand, the word “hazy” means “unclear” gives a hint of the feeling of Dodong about his anxieties whether his father will allow him to marry or not to marry his girlfriend, Teang.
Dodong is about to make a big decision by thinking of pursuing a marriage life. He is just 17 and thinking he is old enough to marry just because of his physical features such as the muscles on his arms and mustache being apparent on his upper lip. For the protagonist those are already valid aspects for a person to embark another chapter of his life.
Jose Garcia Villa described a “short colorless worm marched blindly to Dodong’s foot and crawled clammily over it,” while Dodong was in deep thought about Teang. This is another significant object in the story. It gives a resemblance to Dodong who is by nature low in stature. This “worm” may also stand for the title of this short story “Footnote” which we placed at the bottom of our academic writings just like the worm that also burrows deeper into the soil.
Dodong’s family belongs to the poverty line of the society. The story suggests that Dodong is no longer studying. Instead, he just works in the farm. His parents were old but instead of doing something to help them, he kept on thinking of marrying his girlfriend. He was eager to settle down with his girlfriend. Just after they finished their dinner, Dodong dropped the bomb to his father that he was going to marry Teang.
The young man impatiently waited for his father’s affirmative response about the marriage. He was persistent to receive the latter’s permission. When asked by his father if he must marry, he stubbornly responded that he wanted to marry. Having realized that Dodong made up his mind already, there was no way for his parents to object anymore. Love is so powerful that it will do everything to win.
Dodong and Teang had sweet youthful dreams but life did not give them what they wanted. They rushed into marriage and were apathetic on life’s realities. Marriage is not just about love for each other.
After the first son of the young couple was born, Dodong realized what he had done. He was ashamed of his youthful paternity. How poor his choice was nine months ago. Dodong felt devastated on how life turned out after the marriage.
The arrival of six more children on successive years made the couple’s life more miserable. Teang cried sometimes wishing she did not marry at all. Somehow, she also wished that it was better not to have kids too.
They both learned their lesson the hard way in which they became already prisoners of their impulsive and wrong decision. There was no way turning back for they already have seven hungry mouths to feed. They did not realize that when they get married, they would have kids and the responsibilities that lie ahead would be heavier. There was no option left but to face the consequences of what they did.
How many opportunities would had been opened for them if only they did not marry on such a very early age? Perhaps, they would able to finish their studies, to help more with their families, and to have a brighter future.
Jose Garcia Villa proved in his work that history repeats itself. What Dodong did when he was still a teenager happened once again to his 18-year-old son, Blas. Dodong saw himself with Blas. Love, as they say can move mountains and Dodong could not do anything to stop Blas from what he wants. The story ended with Dodong feeling extremely sorry for his son.
Definitely, “Footnote to Youth” is considerably timeless. The title itself suggests an afterthought. It is something that we should consider carefully for it depicts real world scenarios. This is to leave a lesson for the youth to think many times before jumping into a big decision in life. As what Roy T. Benneth once said, “ You are not the victim of the world, but rather the master of your own destiny. It is your choices and decisions that determine your destiny.”
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