Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
In “Flowering Judas,” Laura, after teaching school and visiting Eugenio in prison, comes home to be warned by Lupe, the maid, that Braggioni is waiting for her. Although she detests his presence, Laura, a young American, allows the Mexican revolutionary leader to sing to her. She is afraid of him, as he is known for his cruelty and vanity. As she “owes her comfortable situation and her salary to him,” however, she does her best to tolerate him. For the past month he has been spending the evenings with her. Laura is in the precarious predicament of attempting to resist his advances without seeming to do so. His “gluttonous bulk . . . has become a symbol of her disillusions” with revolution and leaders. Braggioni has come to represent the disunion between her idealistic view of life and the life she is actually living.
Born a Roman Catholic, Laura still slips into a church now and then but can no longer find comfort in it. She instead tries to embrace revolutionary theories but without much success. Her private heresy is not to wear lace made by machines, even though the machine is “sacred” to the revolutionary forces with which she is working. She fears that she may become as corrupt as Braggioni, who sits before her in his expensive clothes and his great self-love. As he sings his love songs and lectures on his philosophy, Laura wonders why she stays in Mexico. She teaches the Indian children, attends union meetings, visits political prisoners, smuggles letters and drugs, and delivers messages. However, her motives are unclear.
To the Mexicans who know her and see her in the street, Laura is an erotic mystery. Although she remains aloof she is admired for her green eyes, sensual lips, beautiful walk, large breasts, and long legs. The legendary virginity of the gringita spurs Braggioni and other potential lovers into constant...
(The entire section is 761 words.)
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Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Laura, the principal character in “Flowering Judas,” is a young woman who spends her days teaching English to Mexican Indian children, attending union meetings, and visiting political prisoners, for whom she runs errands and brings messages. Despite all this activity, Laura appears emotionally uninvolved, doing her work, listening to the children and the prisoners, and particularly, listening courteously to the wretched singing almost nightly of Braggioni, a revolutionary leader. Egotistical and cruel, Braggioni appears unaware of Laura’s unspoken revulsion and anger at him.
Laura does feel betrayed by the discrepancy between the way she lives and what she feels life should be. She also feels fear—of Braggioni, who symbolizes her disillusionment, of danger, of death. She is caught between her commitment to her present life and her rejection of her life before she came to Mexico.
Laura has been courted by a young captain in the army, but she rejects him, making her horse shy when the soldier tries to take her in his arms. Another young man has serenaded her as he stood under the blossoms of the Judas tree on her patio, but again she is only disturbed by him; she feels nothing more for him than she does for her pupils, who she realizes are strangers to her.
Wearing a nunlike dress with a lace-edged collar, Laura strives to attain stoicism, drawing strength from a single word which epitomizes her aloofness and fear: no. Using...
(The entire section is 495 words.)