The tale of The Lighthouse is a short but sweet one. What seems an ordinary albeit entertaining story concludes as a compelling and memorable account of a young man’s journey to freedom. The Lighthouse will leave you believing in the generosity and goodness of others again. It is one that will tug on your heart strings and reignite your faith in achieving your dreams.
Set amidst the Spanish Civil War, the theme of Democracy vs. Facism is apparent within the novel. Telmo, the gentle natured and old lighthouse keeper, who finds Francisco washed up on the shore values freedom of expression which contrasts most strikingly with Francisco’s pro-republican ideals spurred on ‘since the fascist troops raped the peace and aborted our glorious constitution’, which unsurprisingly has the ageing man concerned.
Telmo believes that ‘when one’s spirit becomes embittered one should get to the sea as soon as possible.’ He refers to Francisco as ‘Moby Dick’, perhaps reminiscent from the way in which he was found, injured and washed ashore, struggling to be free. It seems that Telmo is aware that the young soldier’s heart has become burdened and seeks to release him of his inner turmoil.
Francisco, being a young and somewhat naïve boy, does not realise Telmo’s dedication to emancipating him. He appears ungrateful in asking, ‘why did you save me?’, and goes even further to name Telmo as ‘crazy’ when he believes that he has been deceived by the old lighthouse keeper.
In fact, there is a reason as to why Telmo took the time to tell Francisco stories of his sea-faring adventures. We see that Telmo is attempting to lead the young man into a better future; one where he could truly prosper and find the freedom he desires. Of course, in Francisco’s naivety he doesn’t realise the lighthouse keeper’s honest intentions until it becomes too late.
The Lighthouse is very much a story about growth, as well as, freeing oneself of constraining thoughts and ideas. Although it is never mentioned, we feel the weight of Francisco’s guilt for cursing the old lighthouse keeper and doubting his intentions. Through the silence, and in his renewed commitment to accomplishing his dream, depicts Francisco’s loss of ignorance most potently.
Telmo is much like the lighthouse personified. A beacon of light in the dark, he paves the way for Francisco who is lost to the obscurity of his own thoughts. When Telmo is finally able to illuminate the lighthouse once more, in order to save Francisco’s life, he symbolises the guiding light to a better future.
In Paco’s signature style, he expertly intertwines the past and present with emotive illustrations which help to reflect the simplistic and yet powerful nature of the story. The clean cut lines and striking images offer an effective depiction of the two men’s opposing responses to life, leading the reader towards a dramatic finale.
The Lighthouse embodies the idea of a timeless dream, mysterious, magical, and almost unattainable, fortunately, in Paco’s poignant tale, Francisco manages to achieve true peace and contentment.
The Lighthouse is published by NBM on 16th February 2017
(£12.99, h/b, 64pp, 9781681120560)