Dreaming in Cuban | Study Guide

Cristina García

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Dreaming in Cuban | Quotes


It seems ... she has spent her entire life waiting for others, for something ... to happen.

Narrator, Part 1, Chapter 2

Celia del Pino's life is characterized by waiting and yearning, ever since her Spanish lover left her in 1934. Her romantic, receptive nature means that Celia seeks meaning and happiness in connection with others, who inevitably let her down. Celia is left waiting for the meaning and happiness that never arrive. Celia's waiting is symbolized by her habitual position on her front porch, in her wicker swing, looking out to sea. Her patience pays off in part, however, through her connection with her granddaughter, Pilar Puente.


Painting is its own language ... Translations just confuse it ... like words going from Spanish to English.

Narrator, Part 1, Chapter 5

Pilar Puente describes how painting allows her to express the difficult and complex feelings she could not otherwise convey. Through color, symbolism, and form, Pilar directly transmits her experience of living and searching for identity in-between the two worlds of Cuba and the United States. The visual language of painting allows her to convey what she cannot say in either English or Spanish.


She wants no part of Cuba ... at all, which Lourdes claimed never possessed her.

Narrator, Part 1, Chapter 5

Lourdes Puente flees Cuba after she miscarries her unborn child and is raped by a soldier of the revolution. Lourdes tries to reinvent herself in New York City, fully embracing American patriotism and seeing herself as a realization of the American dream. She becomes loudly, almost violently opposed to all things Cuban as a result of the powerlessness of the trauma she experienced before leaving and her view that El Lider and his government have violated the whole country, not just her.


She can hear everything in this world and others, every sneeze and creak and breath.

Narrator, Part 1, Chapter 6

The "delusions" that possess Felicia Villaverde manifest as an oversensitivity to sensory input. Not only is Felicia's mind assaulted with sounds and colors from the normal world, she receives sensory information from the past, the future, and the minds of other people. Her insanity is like poetry, in that it turns on connection. But it is unbalanced and causes her to lose sight of conventional reality.


Don't you see ... how they're stealing our geography? Our fates?

Celia del Pino, Part 1, Chapter 7

In a letter from May 1945, Celia expresses a sense of powerlessness and outrage. World War II has just ended, and the boundaries of many countries were redrawn as a result of the war's outcome. For Celia, identity is deeply connected to place and therefore to geography. She is inseparable from her island home of Cuba, from her wicker swing on the porch where she watches the sea for enemy invaders.


Nothing Mama does has anything to do ... with any of us.

Luz Villaverde, Part 2, Chapter 8

Luz Villaverde describes her little brother Ivanito's failure to understand that their mother Felicia is insane. After contracting syphilis from their father, Felicia becomes paranoid, delusional, capricious, and capable of speaking only in cryptic poetry. Ivanito loves his mother dearly, for in her insanity, which is often fanciful, fun, and playful, she embraces and idolizes him.


Celia hopes that the sea, with its ... breezes from distant lands, will ease her son's heart.

Narrator, Part 2, Chapter 10

After suffering heartbreak following the end of a love affair in 1934, Celia del Pino begins to find healing in the long hours spent seated on the front porch of her house in Santa Teresa del Mar, overlooking the sea. The sea is a source of healing, beauty, cleansing, and connection for Celia. It is a constant, steady presence in her life. When her son, Javier, returns home heartbroken decades later, however, he fails to find the comfort Celia finds in the ocean.


They were a kind of poetry that connected her to larger worlds, worlds alive and infinite.

Herminia Delgado, Part 2, Chapter 13

Herminia Delgado describes the connection of her best friend, Felicia Villaverde, to the spiritual practices and rituals of Santeria. In the context of Santeria, Felicia is able to integrate the visionary powers that drive her to destructive madness. Without the form of those rituals, these connections cease to be beautiful and poetic and merely cause disintegration and chaos.


We can see and understand everything just as well alive as dead.

Jorge del Pino, Part 2, Chapter 14

Jorge del Pino speaks these words to his daughter Lourdes Puente from beyond the grave in their final conversation. Lourdes doesn't need her deceased father's help any longer, because she has the same ability to see the truth that he does, if only she can find the courage to confront it.


We can reach it by a ... charter flight from Miami, yet never reach it at all.

Pilar Puente, Part 3, Chapter 16

These words reflect Pilar Puente's thoughts upon returning to Cuba with her mother, Lourdes. Having hoped to find that she truly belongs in Cuba, Pilar realizes that she belongs in both Cuba and in New York and so is destined to live "in-between," never fully landing in secure rootedness.

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