Felisa Rincón de Gautier Essay - Critical Essays

Ruth Gruber


The author, a foreign correspondent with a doctorate from the University of Cologne, merges awe and admiration in the factual account of a woman whom she knew personally through work as an assistant to the secretary of the interior. Gruber’s approach allows her subject’s life to unfold as a bud becomes a blossom. Although bright, beautiful, and effervescent, Rincón de Gautier suffered much pain early in her life. When prejudice prevented her best friend, Agrippina, from being invited to a children’s ball, she stayed home and never forgot the discrimination. She prayed in vain at her mother’s bedside for Doña Rita to survive a hemorrhage after the birth of her last child. Crushed but not bitter, Rincón de Gautier relinquished her hopes to follow a family tradition in their pharmacy, perhaps even to become a doctor, when her father removed her from high school a year before graduation to head the household on a remote farm. There, she organized the life of seven brothers and sisters and assisted the jíbaros with childbirth and illness. When she had worked in her uncle’s drugstore, she had found the talk and debates of the townspeople who would gather there to be to her liking. In the country, Rincón de Gautier found herself learning the principle of neighborly love as expressed in the saying, “A jíbaro never lets another jíbaro starve.” The rural sugar workers loved her in return, sparing the homestead during a revolt. At Vega Baja, she taught her...

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