(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Cristina García creates in Celia a character whose fragility emphasizes the tenuous nature of the del Pino family, and by extension any family separated during the Cuban revolution. At the same time, Celia’s rational internal voice and astonishing bursts of strength suggest the underlying unifying power of ancestral identity. The reader is never sure which force prevails, division and political disagreement or the need for reunification, and it is this unresolvable conflict between characters that gives Dreaming in Cuban its realistic edge.

Though Pilar’s efforts to reunite the family suggest the legitimacy of a multicultural clan, the revolution leaves permanent, irreparable scars. Jorge del Pino dies, emaciated from cancer, without forgiving Felicia for staying with her violent husband; Felicia dies haunted by her father’s rejection and deformed by madness and the syphilis with which her husband had infected her. Celia’s son Javier, leaving his family for a new one overseas, is himself abandoned by his wife and daughter. Emotionally destroyed, he returns to Cuba, but Celia’s careful ministrations cannot heal his wounds. While bathing him, she sees a pulpy scar on his back that matches the scar across her chest where a breast was removed. Family members share common ground after all: Their souls are gradually consumed by the loss of love and stability.

García metaphorically depicts the family’s simultaneous fragmentation and interdependence by dividing the text into three parts, which are further divided into chapters, then into brief sections of narrative. Each section focuses on a single character’s point of view. In this way, a chapter that begins by relating Felicia’s story from the third-person point of view breaks for a section about Celia from the third-person point of view, then into a section about Felicia’s daughter Luz told as a first-person narrative. Characters’ narratives are then divided by tense: past for stories preceding 1972, present for stories occurring between 1972 and 1980. Characters’ lives are revealed individually, and their perspectives about the revolution do...

(The entire section is 875 words.)