About the legend of the dying wanton Essay

The story that we will be analyzing is the Legend of the Dying Wanton. The story was written by Nick Joaquin and was published in the year 1952. We will be using the Christian literary approach to analyze the different parts of the story. We will also use this approach because the story dives into the lives of the people who believe in God and how they rely on Him regarding their everyday lives. The Christian literary approach tackles the various issues regarding Christian values and beliefs. The story explains that the faith of the people towards God even when there are difficult times is still strong.

In this critical essay, we examine the formal elements of this text as well as the faithfulness of the main characters in this particular story in relation to the miracles through the faith to which believers of a particular faith follow.

The story chosen for this study present characters who are continuously faithful. We argue that these characters are controlled by their faith, and it is essential to show faith is challenged in each story, and whether the characters are shaken by it or stayed strong with it.

Formal Elements of the Text

The Legend of the Dying Wanton by Nick Joaquin specifically the elements of it are relevant to make the story feel complete. The setting of the story took place during the 17th century between Spain and the Philippines. There are various conflicts in the film such as man vs. man, man vs. self, and man vs. nature. The conflict of Man vs. Man was shown by this story through the fight that happened when the natives rebelled against Currito and the rest. The Man vs. Self in the story was shown through his inner struggles of his own finding his true personality. The Man vs. Nature in the story was shown through how the coast of Mindoro was a nightmare for Currito because of its harsh storms and weather conditions. The symbolisms in the story were the typhoon, the rosary, and the visions and dreams. The typhoon represents the punishment that was given to him and that led to his eventual demise. The rosary represents the faith that Currito has towards God and how he clings to it as his only hope. The visions and dreams represents the past experiences that Currito had lived and the good times he could have had in the future if he had only changed for the better.

The main characters of the story were Currito Lopez and Doña Ana who were the leads of the story. Currito Lopez was a soldier in the Spanish army who enforced and ruled over the people in a badly. He was an evil person outside but deep inside he still had some kindness in him that made him continue to pray and have faith in God. Doña Ana was a one of the principal ladies of the country at that time. She was a woman of great was a good friend and a woman of religion of Currito that helped him change into a better person.

The time that Currito was still in Manila he was a very wild and evil person who controlled people and did many bad things. Even with these circumstances Currito didn’t really look like he would be a religious man but indeed he was. His personality didn’t really change even with his faith in God and he still continued his shenanigans.

“This Currito was a lost soul, his every action being so public a scandal even decent people knew who he was and shunned him like a leper.”

Currito’s faith was indeed challenged because he did not know if the things he was doing were good for him and he needed help from God so he always prayed to Him.

“And at such times she always found the notorious Currito there, kneeling in an obscure corner, his head bowed and a rosary dangling from his clasped hand.”

Currito’s faith later on was challenged when he was left to die in the coastline where he was critically wounded and had no food and water for days. Currito’s faith became stronger because of the visions and dreams he had that made him feel happy and made him realized that God was always with him. He realized all the good things and eventually saw the spirit of the Virgin that made him have complete faith towards God.

“He confessed and was shriven, and turning to the soldiers about him he begged them to forgive him the formal scandal of his example, urging them to also not to despair if life be painful.”

The life and attitude Doña Ana portrayed was mostly because of her strong faith towards God and her loyalty to him. She liked helping Currito Lopez cope from the depression he kept in him and she was so kind to give her blessings to Currito who was notoriously known to be an evil person.

“But Doña Ana, whom these words had moved to tears, approached and took him by the hand and led him to the altar.”

Doña Ana’s faith was challenged when she was terrified for Currito’s welfare during his expedition through the storms. She kept praying and trusted God to protect Currito from dying and getting harmed in his travels. Doña Ana’s faith was also challenged through the truth about the outcome of Currito’s life if he was alive or dead.

“Doña Ana found herself trembling for Currito, and for all the poor soldiers caught by the storm at sea. She pictured them on their teetering decks, hurtled now upward, now downward; the rain beating on their faces and the wild sea piling in from all sides. Shuddering, she whispered prayer after prayer for them—for the poor Currito, especially",”

Doña Ana was at first shaken at the dream she had about the death of Currito that was showcased by scenes of horrible images. Doña Ana after her dreams realized that her vision maybe from God who was trying to tell her that Currito was indeed dead. She was at first puzzled on why God did not help Currito so she was very displeased deep inside. But after spending some time in the church she soon realized that God has already forgiven Currito and has already put Currito in his kingdom. She saw that Currito had already moved on to a better life and found true happiness from his death.

“But perhaps God would show her a sign, she thought suddenly, as she descended again, her arms full of the robes she had quitted from the Virgin and which she now spread out on a bench and was rolling into a bundle when, horrified, she noticed that the edges of the robes were stiff and stained with mud.”

“Straightway she forgot her gloom and bristled with spirit.”

We can sometimes go to a near death situation and we don’t know when that time will come. As seen in the story, a nearly dead person that is bruised up and rotten smelling was discovered by Salgado. We believe that it’s not just by pure chance but it is destined by God that Salgado will find Currito.

“But this pile of rot moved its eyes and opened its mouth, calling Salgado by name; procaliming itslef Currito Lopez; and asking did Salgado not know him?”

We really can’t expect the unexpected. We as human beings can only survive a few days without consuming anything. But miracles can happen just like in the Bible, Jesus went to a journey across the desert for 40 days without having food and water just like how Currito survived the shipwreck starving and badly wounded while seeing mirage like images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

“But he told Salgado how those thirteen days had seemed but a moment to him, for the Holy Child and His Mother had come and smiled at him, and their faces were so beautiful he seemed to have gazed too briefly, only for a moment but, behold, the moment had lasted thirteen days.”

We all question our faith in one way or the other. We as people of this world believe in scientific and logical thinking that sometimes makes us forget our faith. As seen in the story Currito was an unbeliever that turned to a true believer because of that life changing moment that happened to him and owed up and repented to the past mistakes that he had made. Currito was reminiscing about creation as well as life and death.

“…he confessed and was shriven, and turning to the soldiers about him he begged them to forgive him the former scandal of his example, urging them also not to despair if life be painful.”

Some people only turn to God only when he is needed in a dire situation but people usually tend to forget Him in everyday life. Doña Ana as shown in the story had a nightmare about the corpse of Currito that turned to dust where she appeared praying and dying non-stop for the lifeless Currito with his rosary.

“…the poised bones had collapsed and crumbled, the rosary dropping on mud, whereupon a crowd of people (and herself among them) had appeared on the scene and had picked up the soiled rosary and had prayed and wept over it, their falling tears washing away the mud until the rosary shone clean in their hands and gleaming like a pearl necklace: at which point she had woken up and found her chheks and pillow wet with tears.”


We all face trials and tribulations and those challenges by God are not meant to destroy us but to rebuild us even stronger. As we face those challenges one after another we must always keep in mind that God is just at our side as long as we stay by His side through all the challenges.

In this particular story, Nick Joaquin has shown us that faith is built for us to make a bridge that leads to our relationship with God. The author showed us that God is a forgiving being that he would stay by our side even if we made countless mistakes during the duration of our lives as long as we don’t forget Him.

This short story by Nick Joaquin critique and analyze the faith of the characters. This particular story was able to show that the main problem is not the lack of faith but how strong our faith is. Faith, therefore, should be practiced through our daily lives to remember the importance of our creator during the journey of our lives.


Ferretter L. (2003) Christian Literary Theory. In: Towards a Christian Literary Theory. Cross-

Currents in Religion and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, London

Joaquin, N. (1952). The Legend of the Dying Wanton, Manila, Philippines.

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