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The False Belief – Literary Analysis on ‘May Day Eve’

The False Belief  – Literary Analysis on ‘May Day Eve’

“May Day Eve”, written by Nick Joaquin, is all about two individual lovers who believed that by looking in the mirror, then chanting an incantation, you will see the person who you’ll be married to if it goes well. If not, you will see the ‘devil’ or the ‘witch’. This short story was written in 1947, where legends and superstitions such as devils and witches were probably common. This greatly contributes to the theme of the story: the hasty decision to believe in superstitions. Agueda, Badoy, their daughter, and Voltaire all relied on superstitions.

Agueda, one of the main characters, was naïve. She thought that the superstition was true since she heard and learned it from a veteran, Old Anatasia. She was curious and wanted to find out if it was true or not. She disobeyed he elders saying, “I do not care! I am not afraid! I will go!” and escaped after without saying any other words. (paragraph 17) She eventually met Badoy and married him in the end because according to the incantation, “If it all goes right, just above your shoulder will appear the face of the man you will marry.” (paragraph 16)

Voltaire, Badoy’s grandson, also believed in superstitions at his young age. He was caught by his grandfather looking at the mirror near the end of the story. “The boys at school said I would see her (his future wife) if I looked in a mirror tonight… ” He argued. (Paragraph 28) This leads to the conclusion that when people are young, people believe easily and can make hasty decisions.

Because of these acts, it lead to bitter endings. Agueda regretted not being married to Badoy saying that she saw the “devil” to her daughter as she retold her what had happened that night. (paragraph 21) Badoy also regretted marrying Agueda. In the ending of the story, Badoy “had forgotten that she was dead, that she had perished.” (paragraph 47) He felt regretful and sad knowing that it was too late to change the past; Agueda was already dead and he couldn’t do anything about it. “Such a grief tore up his throat” and “the bowed old man sobbing so bitterly in the window.” (paragraph 48)

On the other hand, unlike Agueda and Badoy, Voltaire didn’t have a bitter ending. He was caught in the middle of doing this superstition and it was a good thing. Badoy found him and had scolded him saying his own experiences on seeing a ‘witch’ himself.

That short story “May Day Eve” was all about hasty decisions, most specifically on trusting in superstitions. Superstitions can lead to many kinds of paths. It can be harmful or not. They can lead to big mistakes such as marriage like what Badoy and Agueda had. Nick Joaquin was able to teach his readers a lesson on superstitions. Superstitions are not always necessarily true. I admire him because through a simple story he was able to say a lot. He also made a two-fold ending. For Voltaire, it was not difficult since he stopped believing in the superstition. For Badoy, it wasn’t easy for he grieved and regretted for his marriage with Agueda.