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THE SMALL KEY

"The Small Key" is a short story by Philipino author Paz Latorena. It is about a woman named Soledad who is married to a man named Pedro Buhay. They live on a farm. One morning Soledad finds herself knowing that the farm will produce plenty but that she still had some inner feeling of discontent. She planned to mend some of her husband's shirts, which were in a locked trunk. Pedro took out from his pocket a string which held two keys, one large and shiny and one small and rusty. He gave Soledad the large key to his trunk and put the small key back in his jacket pocket. Since it was hot that morning, he removed his coat before leaving to work in the field. When he was gone, Soledad began to fold the jacket and the small key fell to the floor. It is obvious that Pedro values the small key while Soledad fears it.

Soledad knows that the small key is a key to a different trunk. She tries to busy herself so that she will not think about what the smaller trunk contains, but she cannot stop thinking about it and reveals that the small trunk contains clothing that belonged to Pedro's first wife. She wonders why it is that he keeps her old clothing and why he seems to have a special feeling about them. She obviously fears that Pedro still loves his first wife even though she has been dead for many years by now. She reveals that she hates the things in the small trunk and worries that they will destroy the relationship between her and her husband. Despite her attempts to not think about the contents of the small trunk, Soledad opens it. At this point, Pedro returns home to find Soledad in bed supposedly with a fever. It turns out she does not. The next morning Pedro discovers a pile of ashes and half burnt clothing in the backyard. He realizes what Soledad has done and rushes to look in the trunk to confirm it. Soledad has indeed, burned his first wife's clothing.

Pedro is angry and bitter that this has happened and he expects that Soleda will explain things later. He thinks to himself that he will forgive her because he loves her but that even if she did it out of love for him, it will always remain a matter of some resentment toward her for doing it.
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