Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Machado deals with the themes of loneliness, friendship, and self-identity. Federico is like Machado himself: a sensitive, intellectual, homosexual Cuban exile. Because Federico was exiled from Cuba, rather than voluntarily emigrating, he has always felt that part of him was amputated, that his childhood was stolen from him. Symbolizing Federico’s divided self and the division between such dichotomies as capitalism and communism and heterosexuality and homosexuality, at the beginning Federico chants a fragmentary poem full of questions: “Can it be? Is this me?/ . . . Am I home?/ . . . Why am I not/ any good./ Why can’t I hold/ on to you/ or it./ Or her./ Or me./ Or dreams.”

His statements are incomplete but evocative: “When you’ve reached your/ promised land, Where the people often dance.” Most of his lines are either questions or poetic, tortured expressions of his immediate emotional responses to his experiences.

An admirable part of Federico’s characterization is that he is comfortable with and open about his homosexuality. Ernesto, the macho Latino, verbally abuses Federico at times, but he is won over by Federico’s emotional honesty. Fred, meanwhile, finds himself converted to Cuba, speaks enthusiastically about the revolution, and says, “I’m not gay, but I feel like a woman.” In a moment of passion, he weeps and asks Federico to hold him. The name Fred is the Americanized version of Federico, suggesting not just...

(The entire section is 584 words.)