Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Stereotypical male expectations of female sexuality is the central subject of Nicholasa Mohr’s story of Zoraida and her obsession with her dream lover and her great-aunt’s rocking chair. The theme is first suggested by the fact that Casto believes that the kind of sex that Zoraida is having with her demon lover is not the kind of sex in which a decent husband and wife should engage. Although the story does not make explicit what Casto means by normal, healthy sex, it seems clear that it does not include a woman’s wanton enjoyment of the sex act. Casto finds Zoraida’s total delight in her hallucinatory sex acts disgusting. A hypochondriac who is obsessed with his health and who takes handfuls of vitamins and spoonfuls of tonic every day, Casto justifies his need for sex as necessary to keep him from becoming ill. He feels that he is the master of his home, but he will not touch Zoraida as long as she seems under the control of something unhealthy. Zoraida’s enjoyment of sex makes Casto call her a whore and an animal, vulgar and common. When he married her, her shy behavior and ill appearance, like that of a “sick sparrow flirting with death,” made him think of her as a lady.

Throughout the story, Casto insists on his rights as a man to have sex when and how he wants. Zoraida’s conscious views about sexuality are not made clear in the story, but the fact that she can take pleasure in sex only while she is asleep, and therefore has no...

(The entire section is 482 words.)