Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Saints” is about the ironies of remembering and about affirming one’s past. Rather than reject the teachings that she received from her religion and her grandmother, Soveida recalls them within the ironic context of her adult experience. She still identifies with saints. In accepting herself, Soveida accepts what has shaped her.

Another theme of the story—which is as overstated as Soveida’s acceptance is understated—is sex. “Saints” is the story of one part of the education of a girl in the matters of sex and sex roles. Soveida learns from her grandmother that women should be allowed to be priests and that men are beastly. Her grandmother also supports Soveida’s reading. In this sense, Soveida’s grandmother is a feminist. She even argues that the prayers of nuns, more powerful than those of men, are “little by little . . . making God a nicer man.” Mamá Lupita’s arguments against priests—who, in her opinion, are all either homosexuals or womanizers—against Soveida’s own father, and against men in general are perhaps inappropriate for the ears of a child. On the other hand, they provide a balance, especially in their realistic detail, to the messages about sex that Soveida is receiving at her Roman Catholic school. Soveida reads many hagiographies of female saints who would rather suffer terrible torture than lose their virginity. Presumably, she does not read of ordinary desire, or of women who exercise their sexuality...

(The entire section is 506 words.)