Analysis on "Dead Stars" by Paz Marquez-Benitez

The Timeless Dead Stars by Paz Marquez-Benitez - A Literary Analysis

A Literary Analysis

In the history of Philippine literature, a person named Paz Marquez-Benitez holds the distinction of having written the first modern Filipino short story, "Dead Stars." 

This groundbreaking literary work was published in the Philippine Herald in the year 1925, and this marks a notable milestone in the nation's literary history.

Who is Paz Marquez-Benitez?

Paz Marquez-Benitez, born on March 3, 1894, in Lucena City, Quezon, is honored as a great and remarkable Filipino writer. She was among the first generation of Filipinos taught under the American Education System. 

Paz became a pivotal figure in the University of the Philippines' English department from 1916 to 1951 for her excellence. 

As published by The Kahimyang Project, she pioneered the "Woman's Home Journal" in 1919. It was the country's first women's magazine in the country. 

Aside from "Dead Stars" in 1925, she later compiled in 1928 the "Filipino Love Stories," a groundbreaking collection of Philippine stories in English written by her students. 

Dead Stars by Paz Marquez-Benitez

"Dead Stars" is more than just a short story about love and longing. It reflects the 20th century's societal norms and values as this story provides a window into the soul of human emotions and the complex circumstances every individual must navigate.

It is a story between Alfredo Salazar, who has a turbulent emotional journey, and Esperanza, the beautiful and elegant woman who got engaged with the former. Their story poignantly captures the ephemeral nature of emotions. 

As portrayed in the story, love can be fragile and purposive. It can be seen in how their love for each other went. At first, their relationship was full of enthusiasm and passion. Though they've been together for four years, and their marriage is about to come, Alfredo's feelings for Esperanza seem to fade over time. It was held together only by the binding promise of marriage—a vow he feels he cannot abandon. 

As Alfredo became cold, he met Julia. Alfredo's internal struggle between propriety and passion, societal expectations and personal desires, forms the story's heart. 

As Alfredo continues to fall, Julia learns he's engaged. The time, which he thought was their chance to have quality time together, was also the time to say goodbye because Julia planned to leave the town and go back home because of what she learned.

This made him more confused as to who he was going to choose. He cares what other people say, so he chooses to marry Esperanza. After being married for quite some time, Julia still resides in his memory. There are a lot of what-ifs thoughts, and these haunted him. 

One day, during a business trip to a town, where at the same time, the place where Julia lives, Alfredo unexpectedly encounters her. Although he had never actually forgotten his emotions for Julia, he had gradually accepted his marriage to Esperanza. In that moment, Alfredo realizes that his feelings for Julia have faded, and he feels at peace with the life he has with Esperanza. 

Dead Stars by Paz Marquez-Benitez - A Literary Analysis

So, what do dead stars symbolize in Marquez-Benitez's story? 

Well, like a dead star whose light still lingers long after its extinction, Alfredo's love for Julia had silently dimmed over the years as a memory; it was hardly mutual and doesn't seem to last. Further, Esperanza's love for Alfredo, though appearing as love, is more rooted in strong will and principles. Like dead stars, such events may shine brightly but are devoid of life.

Key Takeaways:

  • Paz Marquez-Benitez was born in 1894 in Lucena City, Quezon, Philippines.
  • Dead Stars is considered the first modern Filipino short story and was published in the Philippine Herald in 1925.
  • The narrative and character analysis align with the story's themes and character portrayals.

HUMSS Senior High School


McJulez is a passionate writer who loves making concise summaries, sharing valuable notes, and talking about new insights. With a background in campus journalism and a commitment to delivering experienced and reliable content, McJulez is dedicated to making this platform a community of learning and connection. facebook twitter pinterest

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