The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Dorothea Dreams tells the story of Dorothea Howard’s progress from seclusion and obsession with her work to a return to public and political involvement. The change occurs after young Chicanos hold her hostage. She sympathizes with their effort to save their neighborhood. Her friend Ricky Maulders and a ghost from the time of the French Revolution help her respond to the crisis.

A well-known artist, Dorothea lives near Taos, New Mexico, and is obsessed by an enormous collage of found objects she has spent several years creating on a cliff wall. The first person to see this work is Ricky, a friend who is dying of cancer and asks to stay with her for a while. Like the viewers to follow, he is enchanted by this artwork; he believes it was the beacon that drew him to Dorothea. Ricky and Dorothea’s friendship blossoms into a love affair, and Ricky helps Dorothea to analyze the frightening dreams she has been having in which she sees an angry mob and speaks aloud in French, a language she does not know well. After she writes a long letter in her sleep in French and in someone else’s handwriting, they determine that a ghost from the time of the French Revolution is haunting her in her sleep. The ghost had been active in bringing about the revolution but rejected political involvement later in life. He believes Dorothea is his son, whom he wishes to persuade against risking his own safety through radical politics.

Meanwhile, Roberto...

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Dorothea Dreams Literary Techniques

Although Dorothea Dreams may well be Charnas's best novel, it is unlikely to reach so large a public as did Walk to the End of the...

(The entire section is 103 words.)

Dorothea Dreams Ideas for Group Discussions

Central to any discussion of Dorothea Dreams is the dichotomy between the artist's desire to retreat from the world and the need to be...

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Dorothea Dreams Literary Precedents

The proper relationship between the artist and society has been an important theme in the work of any number of major authors, and, as one...

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Dorothea Dreams Related Titles

After publishing Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines, two very angry works of feminist science fiction, Charnas...

(The entire section is 184 words.)