Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The focus of “Aunt Rosana’s Rocker” is primarily on Casto, but it is clear that the narrator’s sympathy is with Zoraida, who is the victim of stereotypes that control her life. The story communicates these stereotypes primarily by focusing on Casto’s sense of being treated as less than the man of the house, first by Zoraida’s sexual pleasure with a dream lover and second by her retreating into the rocking chair and becoming invisible to him when he wants to have sex. Casto’s macho expectations are presented by the narrator as if they are perfectly reasonable, and Zoraida has no right to her own pleasure or her own identity.

Although the story is told in a realistic style, the fact that a spiritualist is called in to exorcise the demon that seemingly has possessed Zoraida and, more important, the fact that the reader learns at the end of the story that Zoraida has somehow been taken over by the spirit of her dead great-aunt Rosana, suggest some of the elements of Magical Realism that characterizes the fiction of such Latin American writers as Isabel Allende. As Zoraida lies in bed at the conclusion of the story, she thinks that without the rocker she will not be able to sit there and meet all of her suitors. She recalls that the last time she sat in the chair she was dancing to a very slow ballad, but without the rocker she cannot remember it, nor can she sit in the rocker again and pick up her memory where she had left off the time before. Mohr purposely leaves the end of the story inconclusive. Although Casto feels confident that he can now have Zoraida sexually any time that he wants, Zoraida’s final posture of lying in bed with her back turned toward him indicates that even without the rocking chair, she will continue to be invisible to Casto.

Mohr is one of the few Hispanic women in the United States to overcome the often-closed world of New York publishing to present realistic images of the situation of Hispanic women and children growing up in New York City. “Aunt Rosana’s Rocker” is a fine example of Mohr’s depiction of the Puerto Rican woman’s struggle to overcome stereotypes of race and gender.