Study Guide

Luisa Domic

by George Dennison

Luisa Domic Essay - Critical Essays

Luisa Domic

This short, poetic novel has little plot but possesses original characters and reflective atmosphere. It is a love story not about passion but about friends who nurture one another and about a Nature which shelters.

The narrator lives on a Maine farm with his family. They live idyllically: enjoying mild weather, observing life surging through animals, preparing for harvest rituals. One October weekend, several friends arrive. All need healing, but not all can be healed.

The first is Harold Ashby. Once a famous composer, Ashby now uses his talent to heal autistic children. Ashby has come to renew his acquaintance with the narrator and to rest after a hectic tour. The next guest is Marshall Berringer, a politically active writer recently returned from Chile after witnessing the right-wing 1971 coup that toppled Salvador Allende’s regime.

Accompanying Berringer is Luisa Domic, a Chilean exile hurrying to sanctuary in Canada. Luisa’s family died in the coup; when she arrives at the farm, she is mute, lifeless. The next day, she suddenly becomes hysterical. Nothing calms her until Harold plays the piano as therapy, not to distract her but to share her pain. Later, Luisa reveals that she was a pianist and that Ashby’s music was her passion. The afternoon passes in glorious reminiscence.

Luisa leaves for Canada. Soon the narrator hears that she has committed suicide. Not all the nurturing the farm offered could compensate for a husband tortured to death, for children slaughtered before her eyes. The narrator wonders if any power exists that can heal a Luisa Domic.

LUISA DOMIC is a subtle meditation upon the beauty natural to the world, the love instinctive to human beings, and the distortions wrought by society and politics.