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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 416

Maria Quitera seems almost completely alienated from herself. Her lack of understanding of her own self and identity seems to be symbolized by the movement of the mirrors in which she observes her reflection in the opening lines. The narrator says,

Her eyes didn't leave themselves, the mirrors vibrated, now...

(The entire section contains 416 words.)

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Maria Quitera seems almost completely alienated from herself. Her lack of understanding of her own self and identity seems to be symbolized by the movement of the mirrors in which she observes her reflection in the opening lines. The narrator says,

Her eyes didn't leave themselves, the mirrors vibrated, now dark, now luminous . . . Her eyes never pried themselves from her image . . . her open robe revealing in the mirrors the intersecting breasts of several young ladies.

Her image is physically shaking in the mirrors, as they are shaken by the trams outside, and the multiple mirrors that surround her make it seem as though she is actually several different women, each showing her from a different angle. Her physical image is literally skewed and confused, made strange to her, just like her own identity.

When Maria is out with her husband and the businessman, she makes meaningless small talk rather effortlessly, almost without thinking.

And this burst of laughter? that burst of laughter com[es] mysteriously from her full, white throat, in response to the businessman's finesse, a burst of laughter coming from the depth of that sleep

Maria feels as though she is asleep, as though she is acting and reacting without thinking. It's as though she's been so conditioned—as a woman of a particular social class, who has a husband of a particular status—that she can act without thinking. Further, no one really seems to expect self-awareness from her. She feels as though she is asleep, and her body just knows what to do without her mind at the helm.

Maria feels that her status and position, in fact, prevent her from truly experiencing reality. It's as though

she [is] protected by a situation, protected like everyone who had attained a position in life. Like someone prevented from a downfall of her own . . . If she wanted she could pour even more wine into her glass and, protected by the position she'd achieved in life, get even drunker, as long as she didn't lose her pride.

All that is really expected of her, she feels, is that she maintains appearances. She doesn't have to really listen or even remain sober, as long as she continues to conduct herself with the same vanity and pride as any other woman of her class. She doesn't even have to really be present; her actual self does not seem to matter to anyone around her, and she does not even seem to know who her actual self is.

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