The article takes up Umberto Eco's concept of the model reader to argue tha
t Carmen, the central character of Miguel Delibes' Cinco horas con Mario, r
eveals the ideological nature of reading and of literature. Previous argume
nts are reviewed concerning Carmen's subordinate position as a woman in Fra
nco's Spain. The discussion proceeds to consider how Mario uses literature
and intellectual discourse to marginalize Carmen. The article concludes by
studying Carmen's use of reading to subvert such marginalization: her subve
rsive reading exposes the exclusive nature of literary discourse.