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Commentary – Rinconete y Cortadillo

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This passage takes place almost at the end of the novel, and describes Rinconete’s thoughts concerning the events he has just witnessed in the house of Monipodio. He comments on the language used by the brotherhood, their activities and their deluded religious beliefs.

Just before this passage begins, Rinconete and Cortadillo were shown the patch, which they were to work. The boys are amazed by what they have seen and the passage ends with Rinconete thinking that they should not spend long in Seville, as part of the brotherhood. However, the novel continues further, to say that they spend ‘algunos meses’ longer in the city, despite their resolve not to.

The passage begins with justification for Rinconete’s thoughts that are to be presented; ‘de muy bien entendimiento’,  and he had gone ‘con su padre en el ejercicio de las bulas’. These aspects of his character are stated in such a way that it seems unquestionable that he is qualified to analyse the brotherhood. Rinconete’s knowledge is made more impressive as the first description of him in this passage is that he is only a ‘muchacho’; he criticizes adults although he is still a child.

It is stated that Rinconete know ‘algo’ about the correct use of language. This modest form makes the brotherhood seem even more stupid and indicates that they know nothing about language. Although Rinconete understands that the brotherhood use language in an incorrect manner, he does not try to improve their grasp of vocabulary, he instead just laughs at them.

There is a hint of sarcasm as Monipodio’s community is described as ‘bendita’; it is hard to imagined that the brotherhood is ‘blessed’ because they commit crimes every day of the their lives. This is where specific criticism of language usage begins. Each memory of their ignorance, makes Rinconete laugh more.

Cervantes demonstrates that there were many more errors in language: ‘con otras mil impertinencias’ but varying in standard.

Rinconete is astonished (‘admiraba’) that the members of the brotherhood believe that they can still go to Heaven if they do not neglect their ‘devociones’. Cervantes describes them as ‘llenos’ of the bad acts they commit, including stealing and killing. They also commit ‘ofensas de Dios’. Most people would therefore think it unlikely that they will go to Heaven after death, but the brotherhood, in all their ignorance, assume they can still reach this higher plane.

All of the above has thus far been condensed into just one sentence in the novel. Rinconete seems to have so many ideas, that he does not have time to pause in between each one. Ideas are only separated by semi-colons, therefore making this a quick passage.

Rinconete continues to laugh at Pipota, who leaves stolen laundry at home while she does to light candles and talk to God. She leaves it ‘guardada en su casa’ because she would not want anyone to steal something from, even though it has already been stolen to find itself in her possession.

Cervantes says that she wants to go to Heaven, ‘calzada y vestida’. This was extremely important for Catholics in death, thus showing how religiously minded she is.

Having read the rest of the story, Monipodio has features of this description, but he also displays a more good-natured side; he is prepared to stand up for Cariharta against Repolido, who beat her for not giving him enough money.

The brotherhood ‘se ocupaban’ in ‘ejercicios’. This is not vocabulary for this context. Rinconete was shocked by the laxity of law and order in the city. This is a bit ironic, because Rinconete is a criminal himself so surely it would be a good place to be for him.

Rinconete explains that the ‘gente’ do not try to hide their ways which are ‘perniciosa’ and ‘contraria a la misma naturaleza’. This implies that everyone in the city is a lawbreaker.

Ironically the passage ends with Rinconete thinking that they should leave soon, so they do not spend to much time in a life ‘tan perdida y tan mala, tan inquieta, y tan libre y disoluta’. This account of life in Seville follows the type of life that Rinconete and Cortadillo were living before they arrived in the city. It does not seem that they can escape from this life; instead they will only be able to escape the city of Seville and the brotherhood.

One can tell that this novel is not present day material, because the language is not current. For example, Cervantes uses the verb ‘garbear’ meaning to steal, which could not be found in a modern Spanish dictionary.

This passage towards the end of the story provides a summary of the brotherhood and is also a good source to discover Rinconete’s feelings towards the community he and his friend have just encountered. Cortadillo has faded into the background at this point. Rinconete only mentions him in the last sentence of the passage. This is an indication that the two boys have become so close, that the thoughts of Rinconete serve for the ideas of both characters.

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