To value one’s own emotions too highly and to forget that others’ emotions should be acknowledged is a natural human tendency. Mr. Conrado Arabia portrays this tendency. In Bienvenido N. Santos’ “The Transfer”, we see how the turn of events make him realize that Father Simplicio Ruivivar is not just their parish priest – he is also human and, just like any other human, he yearns for love, understanding and attention. The first part of the story, which consists mostly of descriptive paragraphs, introduces the setting and characters. The story starts with an account of the preparations for the Bishop’s arrival, and Mr. Conrado Arabia, the chairman of the local Catholic Action Committee, is introduced.
Lines in the story reveal that Mr. Arabia is one with the townsfolk in their desire to have Father Simplicio Ruivivar transferred. Through Mr. Arabia’s and the townsfolk’s accounts, we get a picture of who Father Ruivivar is to them – an old parish priest who, according to the townspeople, should be transferred “to a small, out-of-the-way town” because “he is not strong enough anymore to carry on the growing complexities of his job. ” Nothing much is said about the story’s setting.
The town where the story takes place is unnamed. The story gives no description of the town itself and gives no hints about the time period the story is set in. The readers are, however, introduced to Malabo, a small seaside town where Father Ruivivar is to be transferred. Malabo is a Filipino word which means unclear or uncertain. It can be said that Malabo symbolizes the ambiguity of Father Ruivivar’s future or, in a more general context, the uncertainty of the future of old people. Due partly to old age, they live their lives not knowing what to expect of tomorrow and thus, they feel uncertain and doubtful.
The story also provides an elaborate description of two specific places – the Bishop’s Palace and Father Ruivivar’s room. The Bishop’s Palace was formerly a mansion of a wealthy Chinese merchant. The townsfolk put much effort into renovating and beautifying the mansion in preparation for the Bishop’s arrival. Father Ruivivar’s room, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of the Bishop’s palace. The following sentences describe the parish priest’s room with clarity, putting emphasis on details that the author wants the reader to take note of: “The room was a mess. Mr.
Arabia had been there before, but it had never looked this bad. The bed was unmade and the pillow cases should have been changed a long time ago. They were no longer white. They were shabby like everything in the room, like the cassock of Father Ruivivar which always seemed in need of washing. ” This contrast shows the difference between how the town treats both characters. People forget that Father Ruivivar needs to be taken care of and that someone needs to keep an eye on him. The Bishop is regarded with utmost importance, while Father Ruivivar is neglected by the townsfolk.
The townsfolk notice that things with Father Ruivivar are becoming worse. They make plans to tell the Bishop about the need for a new parish priest but none of them has the courage to seek an audience with him. The townsfolk try to convince Mr. Arabia to talk to the Bishop. He does not concede, thinking that it would be a “disloyalty of sort, a betrayal to memory. ” Finally, after a year, Mr. Arabia pays the Bishop a visit, the primary purpose of which is to hand him a copy of the resolution approved by the CAC, “praying the Bishop to give the parish a new head priest. However, Mr. Arabia does not find the courage to bring up the subject of the petition. He finds himself talking to the Bishop about trivial things. This is evidence of Mr. Arabia’s hesitation to pursue the plan. Mr. Arabia’s character experiences an internal conflict. Part of Mr. Arabia says that transferring Father Ruivivar isn’t exactly the right thing to do but another part of him says that it is for the good of the parish and of Father Ruivivar, too. Things take a turn and Mr.
Arabia reaches an important realization when he hears the Bishop tell Father Ruivivar that he is to be transferred to Malabo by the end of the month. Mr. Arabia sees through the old priest’s initial reaction upon hearing the news and somehow senses the grief Father Ruivivar feels. Mr. Arabia realizes that it is hard for the old priest to accept this news because their town has become his home. Father Ruivivar has learned to love their town and being told to leave it seemed like being thrown out of his own house. A change in Mr. Arabia’s feelings toward the old priest is seen after this incident.
He feels a sense of guilt and, at the same time, pity towards Father Ruivivar which makes Mr. Arabia feel that he should walk with the priest and take him to his room. The story ends with the following scene that takes place inside Father Ruivivar’s room: “The priest raised his head and said: ‘Is it the end of the month now and are we going? Are you coming with me, son? ’ “He stood up and walked towards Mr. Arabia, saying: ‘You are coming with me? I’m not going alone? So, I’m not going alone. You’re young. Look at your hands. ’ “Mr. Arabia moved to meet him. ‘Father,’ he cried, embracing the old priest, and he was suddenly aware not so much of the bloated body in his arms as of an odd smell that came to him, staining him forever before his time, like that of age, like his own father’s when he lay dying in his arms. ” The change in Mr. Arabia’s behavior is more evident in this scene. After seeing how the news affected the old priest, he did not see him as a nuisance anymore. Mr. Arabia now saw beyond what he normally saw of Father Ruivivar and understands that Father Ruivivar, just like any other person, yearns for care and attention.
The story is told from the third person limited omniscient point of view, as we are only allowed access into Mr. Arabia’s thoughts. The reader sees the events unfold as Mr. Arabia sees it and feels what Mr. Arabia feels. Being allowed access into only Mr. Arabia’s thoughts allows the reader to see more clearly the change in his character. It emphasizes the dynamism of Mr. Arabia’s character. The story is centered on Mr. Arabia’s development as a character. In the end, he realizes that elders should be regarded with respect. On a more general note, however, it can be said that the story talks about being sensitive to others’ feelings.
At the start of the story, Mr. Arabia only saw Father Ruivivar as a problem of the parish. The townsfolk, headed by Mr. Arabia, suggest that the priest be transferred to another town, thinking that it is for everyone’s good but failing to realize that this would hurt someone’s feelings. After witnessing the incident that took place at the Bishop’s Palace, however, Mr. Arabia realizes that he has neglected a lot of things about the old parish priest. Now, he sees who Father Ruivivar truly is – an old man who feels abandoned and uncertain about his future because of the transfer.
This illustrates that to fully understand a person, one must learn to look beyond the facade he puts up and see who he really is. The elements of the story work together to provide a clear view of Mr. Arabia’s development and what motivated the change in his character. The author deliberately put in the elements the way they are in the story to make the readers realize what Mr. Arabia realized in the end: Sometimes, people tend to forget to consider other people’s emotions. One must make a conscious effort to look beyond the obvious and understand others’ feelings to discover who a person truly is.
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