What Is the Story "How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife" About?

Written by Manuel Arguilla, "How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife" is the story of a man introducing his city-born wife to his more provincial family. Told from the perspective of Leon's younger brother Baldo, the short story follows the wife Maria's discovery of the peculiarities of country life in contrast to her own home, hinting at the insecurities and fears she is willing to face to join Leon.

"How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife" won first prize in the Commonwealth Literary Contest of 1940 and became Arguilla's most well-known work. The short story also appeared in his anthology "How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife and Other Short Stories" and is considered an important part of Philippine literature. Arguilla attempted to reconcile the urban and rural worlds. By framing the short story through Baldo's eyes, the reader observes Maria assimilating to her new life and Leon reconnecting with his roots and celebrates their determination to come together despite the trials they endure. The story also reveals the patriarchal nature of Philippine society and families; many of these trials are orchestrated by Leon's father, who remains a powerful force throughout the narrative, even though he is largely absent.