Dreaming in Cuban | Study Guide

Cristina García

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Dreaming in Cuban | Part 3, Chapter 17 : The Languages Lost (Celia's Letter: 1959) | Summary



Celia del Pino's final letter is dated January 11, 1959, the day of Pilar Puente's birth and 11 days after the revolutionary takeover by Fidel Castro. Celia writes that she will not write to Gustavo anymore because her newborn granddaughter, born on her birthday, "will remember everything."


This letter reveals that Celia's writing to Gustavo was a ritual of remembrance, a way to safeguard the knowledge and experiences of her life and therefore make them significant. With the birth of Pilar, Celia can pass on this knowledge and the duty of preserving it to a future generation. She can look forward instead of to the past, knowing that no significance will be lost, despite the blows of history. Significantly, these letters represent history told from the perspective of a woman—not a man, and not someone with power. As such, they satisfy the novel's preoccupation, through the characters of Pilar and Herminia, with history being a tool of power written by those in power. Celia's letters are a reclamation of that power by the "underdog," and this revolutionary remaking of history is passed on to her artist granddaughter, Pilar, born on the same day.

Readers may remember from Chapter 2 that Pilar does in fact "remember everything." There is magic in this ending. Whether Celia has the power of knowing that Pilar will have this gift or whether she bestows this gift upon Pilar is unclear. Either way, Celia's letter brings beautiful closure to the novel, bestowing a sense of hope not only for Pilar and Ivanito but for everyone who is trying to figure out who they are and where they belong.

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