It is every woman’s dream to be loved by her man.
In “Eleven Minutes”, Paulo Coelho successfully created a strong woman in the character of Maria. Despite being a prostitute, Maria, a Brazilian girl treated her job as a way to the fulfillment of her dreams. That the money she earns, will be able to redeem her and buy her parents a farm. Yet as she continues to strive for her dreams, she is also being led into a pilgrimage – a discovery of greater things.
When Maria was younger, she had loved a certain boy in their town. It was the kind of love that was so fragile it chose to live in silence. A love that awaits a moment… An opportunity came when this boy spoke to her and borrowed pencil. Instead of grabbing the chance, she retreated and had so much regret later on what she did.
As we can see, her early encounter with love, or even perhaps sex (the pencil is a phallic symbol), has been very childish. She was young and she didn’t know what to do. Yet this experience of hers has become her foundation in making better decisions later on. But then again, she now set aside the four-letter word: LOVE. She has become afraid of the pains it brings with it.
Another factor that contributed to Maria’s fear of falling in love is the existence of stereotyping. In this society, women were always regarded inferior to men. That women are usually treated as sex toys, trophies and the like.
Yes, woman was taken from the man’s ribs (Gn 2:21-23). But, it should be noted too that woman was created because man was not happy being alone. That woman is the only suitable companion to man.
Read this: “Woman, without her man, is nothing; Woman, without her, man is nothing.” Only a small change in the placement of the comma and yet a big difference already.
Going back to the book, Maria also implanted in her mind that SEX is all that men ever think about (some sort of defense mechanism). Her alter-ego surfaces when she’s at ‘work’. She projects a strong character, someone without emotions, to avoid the risks of falling in love. She studied the rules of the game and techniques in the craft. She even engaged herself in role-playing for the satisfaction of her clients. She plays the Innocent Girl, an admirer of glorious tales, in short, ego booster. Takes the role of a Femme Fatale, a domineering woman who relieves men from responsibility. Lastly, the Understanding Mother, someone who would give advice, listen to anything and everything that would go to one ear and come out in another.
Maria has been a victim of the patriarchal society. She learned things that were useful and sometimes destructible to her. Until such time came when she realized that what’s missing in her life is just under her nose.
She discovered that the speed of eleven minutes is not really consistent. That eleven minutes spent in bed with a stranger could fly quickly away leaving her no emotions but with a good sum of money. That eleven minutes could also stretch out to what seem like eternity taking you to Heaven or Hell and leaving you with a feeling of bliss.
And yet with those realizations, Maria is not selfish to possess what she desires. She knows that what she wanted is more of a fairytale than reality. So, she chose to leave everything the way they should be.
This novel is a very good read for it is filled with so many treasures perfect for everyday needs. You must also watch-out for the heart-warming and enjoyable entries from Maria’s diary. They’re really worth keeping and highlighting.
Some great lines from the book…
* “Love is not to be found in someoneelses, but in ourselves; we simply awaken it. But in order to do that, we need the other person. The universe only makes sense when we have someone to share our feelings with.”
* “Desire is not what you see, but what you imagine.”
* “Anyone who is in love is making love the whole time even when they’re not.”
* “The strongest love is the one that can demonsrate its fragility.”
* “…I am convinced that no one loses anyone, because no one owns anyone. That is the true experience of freedom: having the most important thing in the world without owning it.”
* “…And if that is what happens, if I have already lost him, I will at least have gained one very happy day in my life. Considering the way the world is, one happy day is almost a miracle.”
* “Passion make a person stop eating, sleeping, working, feeling at peace. A lot of people are frightened because, when it appears, it demolishes all the old things it finds in its path.”
* “Pain is frightening when it shows its real face, but it’s seductive when it comes disguised as sacrifice or self-denial. Or cowardice. However much we may reject it, we human beings always find a way of being with pain, of flirting with it and making it part of our lives.”
P.S. Thanks JJ for lending the book.