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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,

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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...

(The entire section contains 416 words.)

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