‘The Woman of Samaria’ by Gabriel Miro: Short Story Analysis
‘The Woman of Samaria’ by Spanish writer Gabriel Miro narrates how the Samaritan woman who met the Lord Jesus at the well, the one mentioned in the Holy Bible, pined for the Lord Jesus for a year. After meeting with the Lord, she changes her life from the moment he spoke to her about the ‘living water’. Like in most of his novels and other fiction pieces, here too, Gabriel Miro has used Biblical symbology, atmosphere, and Biblical characters to make this story come alive. He is famous for writing articles and stories with theological and philosophical themes that are rich, poetic, and lyrical. His writing style is appealing to the eye though, in this story, he copies the writing tone of the Holy Bible and uses what we call ‘old English’ to make the story rich with theological meaning. In this story, the Lord Jesus is the main character, and the Samaritan woman has changed her life after meeting Him at the Patriarch Jacob’s well.
But in a year, the Lord has been crucified and has just risen from the dead. A year ago, he met the woman of Samaria, who is known to the Samaritans as Fatima. The name ‘Fatima’ is significant here in this story. Fatima happens to be a popular Christian name, especially with the Roman Catholics in Spain, where Miro resided. Also, the meaning of the name ‘Fatima’ means ‘captivating’ someone who gains your attention. This is very important because throughout Miro’s tale, Fatima, the Samaritan woman, captivates men’s attention before and after her encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. Before she met him, she lived a lustful life or what I would call living a free sexual life. She catered to the wants of men like merchants, farmers, artisans, traders, and others. She had five husbands, and all of them had either died or left her, but the Samaritan woman had no love or respect for them in her heart. She used to expose her breasts to men and try to entice them to sleep with her through her captivating nature. She would be tempted to reside with a foreign merchant by his merchandise, wine, luxurious goods, etc. In this way, she used to lead a free life. She was a beauty, and her eyes used to flash. The use of the word flash is important because, just like sexual overtures that are ‘flashed’ so her eyes used to ‘flash’ her sensual desires for men.
All this changes the day twelve tired, weary, broken sandaled, dusty robed men enter the village asking for a place to rest. Although Fatima indulges in promiscuous sex, she is very hospitable and good at heart. On seeing these twelve travel-weary men, she guides them to her house to rest and refresh themselves. These twelve are the apostles of Lord Jesus. Fatima did not see him until she made her way to the well and saw a youthful-looking handsome man bending over the well, looking thirstily at the waters. This is a trick by Miro to make the Lord seem in want for something when actually, he was there to give a new life to Fatima. On seeing him, she blushes because she wonders whether he would sleep with her.
Then follows the Gospel story, in short, narrated from the Gospel of John, where the story of Fatima, the Samaritan woman at the well, is mentioned. The Gospel story follows with Miro’s poetic descriptions and additional lyrical sentences making the tale seem beautiful in its entirety. For readers who are not familiar with the Gospel passage, I’m quoting it here for you until the part cited in the short story:
“A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” —John 4:7-15
Even before the Lord Jesus could reveal to her that he knew everything about her and her five husbands, Fatima prostrates herself before him. Maybe there are two reasons for this:
- She had already felt his divine presence in her soul.
- She was intoxicated by his words, accent, and good looks in a sensual manner and prostrated herself before him as if to say that she was giving herself to him.
We know from the Gospel of John that the story does not merely stop there. The Lord goes on to talk about ‘living water,’ which could only come from him and a life of pure living. Fatima realizes in her heart that this man is not merely a thirsty youth but a divine being who could read minds and speak words of truth. In the Gospel, she would go to call her Samaritan folk, telling them to come and see the man who had told her everything she had ever done. She wonders if He was the Christ or Messiah.
Let’s analyze the setting of the story because Miro has paid a lot of attention to it. The present and the Samaria of the Patriarchs are mentioned here in this short story. Names such as Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Abimelech, etc., who are all Biblical characters mentioned in the Old Testament, are noted down here. This is because Miro wants to paint a grand picture of Samaria, its historical significance, its relationship with Israel, its relationship with Jerusalem, and Samaritans’ status in Biblical history. He shows a very grandiose view of Samaria. In this Samaria lives, Fatima, who for a year after meeting the Lord, has lived a pure life which to Miro means that she was living a life of purity. Now, she only yearns to see the divine man again, who made her change her life and whom she wants to serve.
According to Miro’s depiction of Fatima, she has not fully understood who the Lord Jesus was. She thinks he is mortal and has not grasped his divinity completely. This is especially so when she is conversing with the two disciples whom she had seen with Lord Jesus one year ago walking into her village. She recognizes them and does the following, which shows she has not fully comprehended the true nature of the Christ:
- She asks them to confirm whether they were with the Lord when he visited a year ago.
- She asks them where the Lord was.
- She tells them that she has been leading a pure life and now wishes nothing else but to serve the Lord.
- She thinks the Lord was married and had a wife. If so, she did not mind being just his servant. It is quite brazen of her to believe that she wanted to marry the Lord, well, that is from an orthodox Christian perspective.
- If he was crucified, as the apostles said, where was he laid so that she could kiss his dead body.
- If he is still alive, she, like a humble and lowly slave, would tend to his wounds.
Like the apostles before Good Friday, even Fatima has not fully understood what Lord Jesus meant to the people of Israel, Samaria, and Judea. The Apostles try to explain this to her. Most probably, one of the two Apostles mentioned in the latter part of the story was Saint Philip, for we know from the ‘Acts of the Apostles’, that he ministered the Word of God in Samaria after the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
“Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.” —Acts 8:5
The Apostles tell Fatima of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Through Miro’s emotive writing, we are made to feel what Fatima felt, that these two Apostles had changed. They were not people weary in heart and spirit anymore. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and the Word of God and were definite in their motives to spread the Gospel as the Lord Jesus was.
But at the wee end of the story, when they walk away from her, rather coldly, she moans, wondering why the Lord Jesus would rise again and not remain on the Earth but Ascend to heaven. On that question, the short story ends, and it is a valid question. It is a legitimate question not only among non-Christians but also among Christians themselves. This has been dramatically mentioned beautifully by Miro to make us ponder and meditate on this question. Miro’s works are profoundly theological, and he always wants to pull the reader towards a Christian theological understanding of the short story or novel that he writes. The Resurrection of Christ has been analyzed to this day and age. The story ends thus on a note of conjecture, something to be pondered on.
I enjoyed analyzing Gabriel Miro’s short story for you. I have a vast collection of writings by Spanish short story writers and novelists. I hope to dig them up from my rooms full of books, books, and only books. If you want to know about my life in books, you can check out my memoir on Amazon Scenes of a Reclusive Writer and Reader of Mumbai.
If you are interested in book reviews, book analysis, short story analysis, poems, essays, essay analysis, and other bookish content, you can check my blog insaneowl.com. If you are interested in purchasing my books, then visit my website, fizapathanpublishing.us, and fizapathan.com. Happy reading to you this weekend! Have a ‘booked weekend’!
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