Chapter 3 Summary and Analysis
Beli, the mother of Oscar and Lola, was raised in the Dominican Republic by her foster-mother (La Inca), who expected great things of her. La Inca sent Beli to one of the better private schools in order to put her in an environment more fitting for the daughter of a famous surgeon. Beli, however, hated school, except for the boys there. She became somewhat boy-crazy despite the teacher informing her mother of the problem. As far as friends, the closest Beli came to having a female friend was Dorca, the daughter of their cleaning woman. Dorca worshipped the ground Beli walked on, and Beli allowed her to.
Things change when Beli at last matures physically. She attracts a lot of attention, not just from the boys at school, but from adult men as well. A local dentist tries to proposition her, and although Beli is flattered and intrigued, she does not follow through.
Beli instead is obsessed with Jack, a European boy in her school. Even after her development, he pays little attention to her, despite her best efforts. However, after he has broken up with his girlfriend, the two become secret lovers. When they are later caught in the act, Jack states that she seduced him because (as the son of a famous general) it would not be acceptable for him to be with someone of a lower class.
In a search for some measure of independence, Beli gets a job as a waitress in a local restaurant. When Beli participates in the club life of Bani, La Inca is disappointed in her, and a rift develops between the two.
Beli becomes involved with a man known as “The Gangster.” The affair becomes a local scandal. La Inca is horrified, and Beli is fired from her waitressing job. While Beli is on vacation with him, he is summoned by the police. He promises to send a car for her to return her to her home, but the ride never materializes. Having stolen money from the Gangster while he slept, she manages to procure a ride back home. On her return, she discovers that she is pregnant. She is ecstatic, but the Gangster turns out to be married to the sister of Trujillo, the Dominican dictator. The Gangster’s wife confronts her, taking her by force to get an abortion, but Beli manages to escape. However, the Secret Police come for her and take her out to the country, where she is beaten unmercifully, causing a miscarriage.
While lying in the cane field where the Secret Police left her, Beli imagines she is visited by an animal spirit, who tells her she must survive in order to bear the daughter and son that will come later. She is rescued by a musical band driving by. That same night the dictator Trujillo is assassinated.
To protect Beli from further harm, La Inca decides to send Beli to New York. Only by leaving the country can her safety be assured.
The point of view returns to that of the biased narrator of Chapter 1. The focus is on Beli, the mother of Lola and Oscar. Though the reader has developed a negative opinion of Beli up to this point, the cause of her hatred of people and of life in general is seen to have some justification. As a Dominican woman, she is subject to the same objectification that is common in the male-dominated world. She exists only to provide sex, and it is in that light that she sees her power.
However, despite her attempted manipulation of Jack and the Gangster, the narrator states that, like Oscar, she is a victim of the fukú, the curse that lies on all Dominicans. She is portrayed as a female Grail knight, the Grail being “pure, uncut, unadulterated love.” This will also be the goal of her children. Each seeks the healing of the land by achieving that love. Up to this point, it is seen how each has failed to reach the Grail.
(The entire section is 1,013 words.)