Expressive and formalistic criticism in Aida L. Rivera-Ford's "Love in the Cornhusk"

Critical analysis

Academic Paper, 2020

8 Pages, Grade: 1.1










“Love in Cornhusk” is a short story written by Aida L. Rivera-ford. She is a Filipina writer whose masterpiece delineates local colors and old identities. Short story as one of the genres in literature refers to a short work of fiction (Klarer 12).

Aida’s work recounted the story of Tinang who came to visit Señora. She, on the other hand, was troubled by his past romantic attachments with Amado. Senora told her about the letter in the post office. Along with her child, they left thereafter. While reading the letter and situating herself on a cornhusk, a serpent came in unexpectedly. The story concluded after she dropped the letter unconsciously as she maneuvered to secure her child (Rivera-ford 58-64). Throughout the narrative, she found herself congested with her past amorous relationship. However, she came to realize that her spiteful memory must be buried in the past. This story adhered in the illusion of the character’s intimate feelings. Grow asserts that parting and abandonment depict the thematic development in the story (42-45).

There are numerous short stories written by the Filipino authors. However, few are examined according to structure and context. As such, an investigation is conducted in order to reveal the author’s presence in the text and the story’s structural identities in Aida L. Rivera-ford’s “Love in Cornhusk”. This qualitative critique, in addition, employs the relevant information which are taken from the web. Aside from the internet sources, books and print articles are also used. Furthermore, this critical analysis is buttressed by the critical theories to literature. Aida’s work will be interpreted expressively and objectively. Expressive theory is used to support the investigation of the author’s presence in the text while objective theory is exploited to underpin the analysis of the story’s structural identities. Montealegre claims that expressive theory refers to a concept in which certain literary masterpiece is decoded according to biographical synthesis (228). Critics using this theory are interested in the biography and historical background of the author. This theory is used in analyzing the event in the story which is linked to the life or biography of the writer (Obeso 612). Objective theory, in addition, refers to the hypothetical idea that a certain work can be scrutinized by its form or structure. As Montealegre puts it: “It is independent of its author or the time when it was written or the historical context” (229). This theory therefore does not adhere on the feelings of the author, the delineation of reality, and the personal reaction of the reader (Leitch 17). Researcher using this theory highlights the literary element in order to scrutinize the essential motifs of the text.


Table 1 presents the events in the narrative which are linked to the author’s biography. This is done through an examination of the masterpiece and compare it to the biography of Aida L. Rivera-ford. The data will be presented accordingly using a matrix. The result will be analyzed thereafter.

Table.1 Author’s presence in the text

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Aida Rivera Ford is a Filipina celebrated literary author. She is a clever woman who writes numerous stories. She, in fact, graduated in 1949 “with an AB degree, major in English, cum laude” ( Tinang, the main character in the story, is a woman who is hunted by her past romantic attachment with Amado. Amado abandons her because his mother was not in good condition as lucidly stated in his letter: “Finally, I could not return because I found that my mother was very ill” (Rivera-ford, 62). The main character still loves him. This is evident when she weeps silently while reading and remembering his past moments with Amado. The author is also in loved and married with Donald Ford, her husband.

Connectedly, the author also experiences from moving in one place to another. According to Dakudao, Aida abandons “the country to study at the University of Michigan, USA.” The author’s abandonment reflects Amado’s parting. In fact, she is born in Jolo, Sulu Mindanao (“”). Her work depicts the everyday living of the people in their place as clearly illustrated: “ The rains had made her a deep slough of a clay road and Tinang followed the prints left by men and the carabaos that had gone before her to keep from sinking in mud up to her knees” (Rivera-ford 61). Out of the employed local colors, the author promotes the customs of an ordinary Filipino. This is evident with her utilization of nativist dictions such as “carabaos” “tuba” and “kalamansi tree.” The story happens in a pastoral area. This place hones Tinang’s bearing. The setting of the story therefore reflects the hometown of the author. Tinang has a son with Inggo as stated in the story: “…the baby’s legs straddled to her waist, and Inggo, her husband, waiting for her, his body stinking of tuba and sweat, squatting on the floor, clad only in his foul undergarments” (Rivera-ford 59). Akin to Tinang, Aida has a son with her husband (“92 passionate years”).

Table 2 displays the literary elements in the short story. This is done through decoding the events in the masterpiece using the literary devices. The data will be presented accordingly using a matrix. The result will be interpreted thereafter.

Table 2. Structural Identities

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Setting refers to the location and the atmosphere where the story happens (Literary Terms 1). The story happens in a countryside where people indulge into agriculture to earn a living. This is evident in this passage: “ She walked on until she spotted a corner of a veld where cornhusks were scattered under a kamansi tree” (Rivera-ford, 62). More so, characters are the people in the story. The characters of the story including the main and the minor are as follows: Constantina “Tinang” Tirol, Senora, Tito, Senorito, Amado Galuran, Inggo, and Bagobo, and Bagobito (Rivera-Ford “Love on the cornhusk”)

In addition to the literary element is conflict. Conflict refers to the struggles or the tensions in the story (Literary Terms 1). The conflict can be man versus nature because the main character encounters serpent while reading the letter. However, it is not main conflict of the story. The principal conflict of the story is man versus himself. This is evident when the main character is struggling about her decision of whether she carries on her undying affection with her former lover or moves forward and focuses her attention on her son. The main character, however, chooses to preoccupy herself in caring her son.

The author mentions symbolic archetypes in the story. Symbolism is another literary device which adheres on the utilization of symbols to embody ideas (Literary and Rhetorical Elements 3-4). Snake, cornhusk, and letter are the signifiers cited in the story. The snake is specified in the latter part of the story as stated: “A little green snake slithered languidly into the tall grass a few yards from the kamansi tree” (Rivera-ford 64). Louis declares that snake symbolizes sensuality and temptation (3). Tinang and Amado feel sexual gratification and temptation as described in these lines: “When she held out the bolts, he seized her wrist and said: “Come,” pulling her to the screen of trees beyond. She resisted but his arms were strong. He embraced her roughly and awkwardly, and she trembled and gasped and clung to him” (Rivera-ford 64). Desperate, Tinang looks for a comfy place where she can read the letter. The letter signifies intimate connection. She situates herself in an open area of land as vividly illustrated: “She walked on until she spotted a corner of a veld where cornhusks were scattered under a kamansi tree” (Rivera-ford 62). Cornhusk embodies production and harmony.

Furthermore, the story is told in omniscient point of view which means that the audience can perceive what the characters are feeling and thinking. This manifest in these lines: “A flush spread over her face and crept into her body…Tinang was intoxicated. She pressed herself against the kamansi tree… And she cried, remembering the young girl she was less than two years ago when she would take food to the Senora in the field and the laborers would eye her furtively” (Rivera-ford 63).

One of the essential elements of the story is plot. It refers to the sequence of events that form the narrative (Literary Devices and Terms 6). The facets of plot are as follows: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement. The exposition is where the characters and setting are interpolated. The exposition of the story is when Tinang calls on Señora. The rising action is where the conflict being introduced. The rising action of the story is when Señora mentions her former lover; she leaves after getting her intention. More so, climax refers to the most interesting part or the highest dramatic tension of the story (Literary Devices and Terms 2). The climax of the story is when Tinang reads the letter from Amado and reminisces the precious moments with him. The falling action in the story is when the letter is dropped on the ground unconsciously as the main character hastily ensures her son. Lastly, denouement refers to the ending or the final part of the story. The story concludes with the bothered bearing of Tinang as she prayed searching for her son (Rivera-ford 64).


The literary critique reveals that the events in the story mirror the personal life of the author. It is also found out that the structure delineates the signification of the masterpiece. Based on the findings, this generalization is arrived at: Aida L. Rivera-ford’s “Love in the Cornhusk” discloses the story’s structural identities and the author’s presence in the text.


Excerpt out of 8 pages


Expressive and formalistic criticism in Aida L. Rivera-Ford's "Love in the Cornhusk"
Critical analysis
B.A English-Literature
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
The author is a published literary researcher and essayist.
Short Story, criticism, Aida L. Rivera-ford, Expressive, Objective, literature
Quote paper
B.A English-Literature Kimberth Obeso (Author), 2020, Expressive and formalistic criticism in Aida L. Rivera-Ford's "Love in the Cornhusk", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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