Platero y yo is a book originally written for adults, but thanks to its simple language and theme, it became one of the most widely read children’s books in schools. A first edition was published in 1914, 7 years after its author finished it. This edition had only 8 chapters. For 1917 a second more complete publication was made with 138 chapters in total.
This book is defined as a narrative. This literary genre is characterized by telling a story either real or imagined in a sequential way. It is formed by a series of actions carried out by its characters.
Narrator and characters
The narrator in this work is in the first person. This story is told through the eyes of the narrator who is the “me” in the book’s title. It is your point of view that the reader reads through the pages of this book from the beginning. It is a narration about his personal relationship with Platero, the donkey.
- Platero: is a silver-colored donkey and turns out to be the narrator’s only friend. Sometimes he is described as a common donkey doing what corresponds to him as an animal. But on other occasions in the narrative, more human characteristics are attributed to it.
- Narrator: Platero’s friend who is described as a bearded adult man who wears black and wears a hat. Somewhere in the narrative he is called “El Loco” and it is described how gypsy children run away from him when they see him.
The title of Platero y yo has everything to do with the history that we are going to find within this book. The main theme of the narration is the relationship between the Platero donkey and the narrator, who will be the self mentioned in the title.
Summary and Synopsis
At the beginning of the book Platero y yo, the author talks about the return to his hometown of Moguer. He describes the beauty of the landscapes he remembered during his years in other places and describes how he befriends a silver donkey he calls Platero. The townspeople see him as if he were a stranger.
He is a bearded man who is always dressed in black and in the company of his new friend.
The narrator describes his town in detail talking about its landscapes, its people and the activities that take place. All these descriptions show us the happy side as well as the painful side of their memories and experiences.
Platero, being a donkey, is not an animal that is highly esteemed, this is why the author focuses on talking about his eyes and intense gaze. It speaks extensively of the purity of this animal.
In one section of the story, a painful scene is told in which Platero and the narrator see a mare on the side of a road that has been killed by her owners for being old and blind. It is a moving scene that leads to a promise from the narrator. He tells Platero that he will never leave him when he is old or sick and promises him that when he dies, he will not leave him lying on the side of a road. He promises that he will bury him near a pine tree that they both used to frequent.
Throughout history, looks are referred to as a means of communication between man and animal. It is the way in which the link that Platero and I describe happens. The donkey is seen as an individual who has been able to make the man who accompanies him a more human being.
Thanks to his relationship with this peculiar friend, the man begins to see life from a different perspective. Begins to behave more like a child, always happy and to see things from another point of view.
Unfortunately, at the end of the narrative Platero eats a poison that ends his life, this is one of the most significant lessons of this work, how to deal with the loss of something (or someone) important. As promised, the man buries his fuel friend and continues talking to him, although he knows that he is no longer physically with him.
Although this book has been considered as a children’s reading, very deep topics are certainly touched on that are worth highlighting. The narrator uses the figure of Platero as a confidant to whom he tells his opinions about relevant issues in life, his pain and his perceptions of the world around him.
Difficult topics such as death are touched on, which in fact can be complicated for children, which is why if we consider it as a story written for adults, we will better understand its purpose.
The continuous meeting of glances between both characters tells us about the strength and at the same time the subtlety of communication between two species that communicate in this way. The bond that develops between animal and man when determining as equals in the midst of a troubled world can make a profound impact if we read it the right way.
- “Precisely a man is a poet when he can be, spontaneously and naturally, what he is.”
- “And the soul, Platero, feels true queen of what she owns by virtue of her feeling, of the large and healthy body of nature that, respected, gives to those who deserve it the submissive spectacle of its resplendent and eternal beauty.”
- “It seems, Platero, while the Angelus is playing, that this life of ours loses its daily strength, and that another inner force, more haughty, more constant and purer, makes everything, as in jets of grace, rise to the stars, that are already lit between the roses… ”
- “The night falls, already misty and purple. Vague mauve and green highlights linger behind the church tower. The path rises, full of shadows, bells, fragrance of grass, songs, weariness and longing. “