Dreaming in Cuban | Study Guide

Cristina García

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Course Hero. "Dreaming in Cuban Study Guide." June 27, 2020. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Dreaming-in-Cuban/.


Course Hero, "Dreaming in Cuban Study Guide," June 27, 2020, accessed August 6, 2020, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Dreaming-in-Cuban/.

Dreaming in Cuban | Motifs


In Dreaming in Cuban, two motifs weave throughout the text creating counterpoints to each other. These are the opposites of fire/heat and ice/cold. These two motifs mirror other opposing pairs in the novel, such as Cuba and the United States and freedom and oppression. In this way, the two motifs suggest the fracture that has occurred in the del Pino family following the 1959 Cuban Revolution.


Cold is associated with places foreign to Cuba. Ivanito Villaverde's Russian teacher keeps a bowl of ice on his desk, and Lourdes Puente flees revolutionary Cuba, seeking a place that is as cold as New York, where she finally settles. As she goes mad, Felicia Villaverde also associates cold with healing, as it is the opposite of the heat that has caused so much destruction in her life. She is obsessed with coconut ice cream, which she believes will cure her and her children. However, at this point, Felicia's madness also connects healing with death. Coldness becomes connected with death when she tells Ivanito to think of winter before she tries to kill them both.


In the novel, fire and heat are presented as destructive, difficult-to-control forces. They are identified with destiny as well as danger. The Afro-Cuban deity Changó is the god of fire and lightning. Pilar Puente is called a "daughter of Changó " by a man in a botánica (a shop with herbs and charms for use in Santeria rituals) in New York City. In her youth, Celia del Pino is told by a fortune-teller that she will overcome the difficulty of fire. Celia does survive much loss, including the loss of her daughter Felicia, who is connected with destructive fire. Felicia tries to kill her husband, Hugo Villaverde, by burning him alive. Two other of Felicia's lovers also die in fire-related accidents. Felicia later craves cold to help soothe her intense heat.

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