Jose Garcia Villa was born on August 5, 1908 in Manila’s
A Filipino poet, literary critic, short story writer and a
painter. He used the penname Doveglion (derived from
"Dove, Eagle, Lion"), based on the characters he derived
He was the son of Simeon Villa (a personal physician of
Emelio Aguinaldo) and Guia Garcia (a wealthy
He graduated from the University of the Philippines
Integrated School and the University of the Philippines
High School in 1925.
He enrolled on a Pre-medical course in the University of the
Philippines but then switch to Pre-law course.. However he
realized that his true passion was in arts.
He enrolled at the university of Mexico, wherein he was one
of the founders of Clay, a mimeograph literary magazine.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and pursued
post-graduate work at Columbia University.
He worked as an associate director of poetry workshop at
City College of New York from 1952-1960.
In 1946 He married Rosemarie Lamb, they had two sons,
Randall and Lance. They annulled after ten years of
marriage. He has three grandchildren: Jordan Villa, Sara
Villa Stokes and Travis Villa.
On February 7, 1997 at the age of 88 Jose died with
cerebral stroke and multilobar pneumonia.
The characters in the story
have strong personality like the
writer itself he has a strong and
In the story “The fence” there is
a bit similarity in the writer’s life
focusing on the separation of the
couple. Jose Garcia Villa is
separated with his wife and had
The Fence was written during American
It was published on December 24, 1927
– Philippines Free Press
Summer 1932 in USA
According to Cruz’s study, he argues that
Villa’s book is fraught with “irreconcilables—the
uneasy, the troubling, and the disruptive within
American influence was deeply entrenched
with the firm establishment of English as the
medium of instruction in all schools and with
literary modernism that highlighted the writer's
individuality and cultivated consciousness of craft,
sometimes at the expense of social
As a reader, the author opted for
a permanent aesthetic beautitude
instead of moving on to the ethical
The story opened with the description of the setting and
how the characters are reflected in the setting.
"They should have stood apart, away from each other,
those two nipa houses." "There should have been a lofty
impenetrable wall between them, so that they should not
stare so coldly, so starkly, at each other—just staring, not
saying a word, not even a cruel word. "
Formerly there had been no bamboo
fence; there had been no weeds. There had
been two rows of vegetables, one to each
house, and the soil was not parched but soft
and rich. But something had happened and
the fence came to be built, and the
vegetables that were so green began to turn
pale, then paler and yellow and brown.
Aling Biang had caught her husband with
Aling Sebia one night.
The next morning she had gone to the
bamboo clumps near the river Pasig and felled
canes with her woman strength. When morning
dawned she rose and went back to the back of the
house although very tired and began to split the
bamboos. Her husband noticed her, but said
nothing. By noon, Aling Biang had built that fence.
Check out the convo:
When her husband asked her what she
was doing, she answered, “I am building a
fence.” “What for?” he asked. “I need a
fence.” And then, too, even Aling Sebia, the
other woman, a child-less widow, asked
inoffensively, “What are you doing, Aling
Biang?” “I am building a fence.” “What for?”
“I need a fence, Aling Sebia. Please do not
talk to me again.”
But early one night, from beyond the
fence, Aling Biang heard cries from Aling Sebia.
Unwilling to pay any heed to them, she
extinguished the light of the petrol kinke and
laid herself down beside Iking. But, in spite of
all, the cries of the other woman made her
uneasy. She stood up, went to the window that
faced the fence, and cried from there: “What is
the matter with you, Aling Sebia?”
“Aling Biang, please go the town and get me
a hilot (midwife)” “What do you need a hilot for?”
asked AlingBiang. “I am going to deliver a child
and I am alone. Please go, fetch a hilot.”
AlingBiang stood there by the window a long time.
She knew whose child it was that was coming as
the child of Aling Sebia. She stood motionless, the
wind brushing her face coldly. What did she care of
AlingSebia was to undergo childbirth?
She decided to lie down and sleep. Her
body struck against her child’s as she did so,
and the child moaned. The other child, too,
could be moaning like that. Like her child
from the womb of Aling Sebia. Hastily Aling
Biang stood up, wound her tapis round her
waist, covered her shoulders with a cheap
The boy Iking was not allowed to play by the
roadside. And he could just catch glimpses of a girl on
the other side. This made the boy to secretly sneak to
the other side of the fence. At night, he hears an
incomplete sound of a guitar he knew coming from the
One morning Iking woke up with a disturbing
sound. He saw his mother reinforcing and
strengthening the fence. “Why-why!” he exclaimed in
protest. His mother stopped hammering. She stared at
him cruelly. “I need it,” she declared forcefully, the
veins on her forehead rising out clearly. “Your mother
needs it. You need it too.”
Iking really wanted his mother to allow him at
least listen to the music but he was never granted
even though that night was Christmas and both of
them prayed for the lord. Even after the Christmas
eve, Iking was still waiting for the guitar to be played
because he is hearing that sound on that time. But it
never played. Until 2am when Ikeng's eyes were
closed and his hands were cold. So sick he rested that
night. At 2:03am, the guitar was played and finally
finished its playing but aling Biang was very angry,
shouting that the guitar playing was a mock because
his son is already dead.
The story is in the Third Person
Point of View. The narrator is not part of
the story but lets us know exactly how
the characters feel. We learn about the
characters through this outside voice.
Aling Biang - unforgiving woman who was betrayed by
her husband with her neighbor
Aling Sebia - a childless widow/ aling Biang's neighbor
who has not seen a feeling of remorse having caught
with her neighbor's husband
Iking - aling Biang's son who wanted his mom to
reconcile with their neighbor. He has hollow dark eyes
and shaggy hair
Aling Sebia's Daughter - a girl who is good in playing
guitar that made Iking to fall in love. She has rugged
features , a simian face, and a very narrow brow, dark-
Aling Biang's husband - a man who left unsettled with
The story happened in an old house on the
roadside, so brown were the nipa leaves that
walled and roofed them that they looked musty,
gloomy. The setting is reflective of the kind of
characters and the situation they would be in.
The nipa huts look desolate and empty,
reflective of how their occupants behave and feel
for each other.
They have no neighbors and yet the need for
each other seems remote and distant.
The fence signifies the walls that hindrance and
separate even best friends, family, or relatives. The
fence was made to separate and enclose two
ownerships-land or space is one. It symbolizes that that
property is exclusive only and that no one is allowed to
trespass. Thus, the separation also leads to separation
of lives among people. Neighbours are good example of
this one and because of this communication and building
relationship are deemed to create.
The bamboo strengthened the hatred as these bamboos
take away the decaying feeling in the heart of Aling
Biang and Aling Sebia toward forgiveness.
“The fence grew moldy and inclined to
one side, the child of Aling Biang grew up
into a sickly boy with hollow dark eyes and
shaggy hair, and the child that was born to
Aling Sebia grew up into a girl, a girl with
rugged features, a simous face, and a very
“At night as he lay on the bamboo
floor, notes of a guitar would reach his
ears. The notes were metallic, clanking,
and at the middle of the nocturne they
“She stood motionless,
the wind brushing her face
“windows as desolate as the souls of the occupants of
the house, as sharply angular as the intensity of their
“From the road these houses feared no enemy – no
enemy from the length, from the dust, of the road: they
“The fence grew mouldy and inclined to one side.”
“Cicadas sang and leaves rustled.”
Aling Biang and Aling Sebia are
most afraid one of them would give
way. The building of the fence seems
necessary to protect themselves from
seeing each other.
The bitter woman – a woman who lived bitterly all her
life after she caught her husband having an affair with
The temptress woman – a widowed childless woman
who later bear a child whom she considered a wrong
The solitary – a sickly boy with hollow dark eyes and
shaggy hair who used to lie on mat all the time
The hideous – an ugly girl who is fond of playing guitar
The cheat grass – the husband having an affair to his
• The river – symbolizes life, journey and
• The nipa house – new refuge, or
• The road – path to take, new
• The fence – boundaries, walls,
• Shadow – despair or
• Kerosene kinke –
hope or renewal
• Tapis – cover, to hide
• Water – birth and life
• Moonlight – change
• Hammer – justice
• Guitar – harmony,
• Window – opportunity
• Dark-skinned bat –
• Red – passion, blood
• Blanket – comfort
• White – purity,
The wife (Aling Bi-ang) caught her husband with
another woman (Aling Sebia), the next morning she
builds a fence and not long after the completion of the
fence his husband disappear and she took the matter
passively and made no efforts to find him, and since
then, She had become a hardened woman.
THE CHIEF TEST MOURNER
The wife (Sophia) tied her husband to a chair with
a strong rope to teach him a lesson, when her husband
(poet) was really drunk. She never saw him drunk again,
for as soon as he was able to, he walked out the door
and never came back.
The wife (Aling Bi-ang) and the mistress
(Aling Sebia) stay at the same place though
separated by a fence. Their unsettle issue make
their child suffered for they don’t want to allow
them to see or talk to each other.
THE CHIEF TEST MOURNER
The poet stays at the hotel, but the wife will
send her niece with a letter at the hotel, and still
care for the poet’s looks and whereabouts for she
gathered information about the poet through their
friends . After years, the poet meets a younger
woman and stays by his side.
The son of Aling Bi-ang, Iking died At two a.m.
Iking’s eyes were closed and his hands were cold. His
mother wept. His heart beat no more.
Two-three a.m.-a few minutes after—and beyond the
fence came the notes of a guitar. And she who played it
finished her nocturns that mourn.
Aling Biang stood up from beside her son, approached
the window, stared accusingly outside, and said in a
low, resentful voice:
“They are mocking. Who would play at such a time as
this? Because my son is dead.”
But she saw only the fence she had built and
strengthened , stately white in the mutational moonlight.
THE CHIEF TEST MOURNER
There were two women, each taking
position of her portion of the chapel during the
funeral of the poet.
“The woman’s face went livid with shock
and rage, and in a quick steps she was there
before the casket, looking down upon that
infinitely sad smile on Uncle’s face. All right,”
she blurted ,turning about. “All right. You can
have him—all that’s left of him!” At that moment
before she fled, I saw what I had waited to see.
The mascara had indeed run down her cheeks.
But somehow it wasn’t funny at all.”
IS IT ACCURATE?
The story is accurate in a way that it is realistic
and non-fictional. The situation and reaction of
the characters per situation is normal and
IS IT CORRECT?
As per event in the story —
Betrayal of the husband
Building of fence
Helping Sebia to give birth
Isolation of their children
IS IT MORAL?
It is not moral in a way that betrayal is being
manifested in the story. And it is so awkward that the
legal and other woman are neighbours in the story
Another is the action showed by the father who
vanished himself after the trouble he made.
“Forgiveness is given to those who ask for it.” Aling
Sebia did not feel any guilt and did not apologize for
the immorality she has done and so Aling Biang
remained embarrassed and disappointed with their
situation which is an obvious reason of building the
The short story “The Fence”
displays a real life scenario. It is very
natural or an expected reaction of a
betrayed party to react such a way of
building a fence as a result of pain.
While the building of the fence of other
woman represents/is a defence-
mechanism on her actions.
Most of the irresponsible men in the
society will do the same. It is a natural
reaction we are expecting from those who
are immature. The father in the story is an
epitome of someone who knows right from
wrong but is so immature of doing or
choosing to do the wrong thing. It is a reality
as well that after bringing damage and pain
to his family, he chose to avoid the
consequences than facing it.
• As I read the story, “ The Fence”, it created
an excitement in my mind as to what would
be its ending. Like the heartbeat pattern in a
monitor of a hospitalized patient, my mind
goes along with the events as the writer
unfolds the mystery of the plot and his
characters’ responses. My mind runs in
indignation as I join the character in her
misfortune as a wife and mother. As to
tbiang’s son, Iking, I am terrified by his
fortune, death at the end.
For me, “The Fence”, signifies the broken
character of Aling Biang towards life’s misfortune.
My analogy of fence to brokenness is seemingly
contradictory for the story connotatively described
the fence as strengthened. How could a fence
that was constantly fortified be broken. Let us
consider the feelings of Aling Biang as she
realized the betrayal of her friend, Aling Sebiang,
and her husband, which brought a human being
in this world, a very clear evidence of such
A person who suffers betrayal becomes
broken and a broken piece is hard to mend
nevertheless it will undergo total transportation.
The fence, though described fortified
and high is simply a façade of the real
feeling of our main character. Brokenness
either creates peace or chaos depending on
the capability of the mind to perceive a
certain dilemma. The mother, Aling Biang,
conditioned her son not to talk to talk from
the other side of the fence, thus he grew
unhappy. She constantly reminds her son
not to go near the fence, despite the longing
of knowing the other being on the other side
of the fence. The son diligently followed his
I thought of how many children around
suffer from the choice a parent’s action.
How many wives have suffered the same
betrayal from a friend so dear? More so,
how many more friends can afford to
betray their same kind, human, and
become humane after all. I speak of these
things using my feminist point of view.