What are the various interpretations of 'heat' in Daryll Delgado's "Preludes"?

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In Daryll Delgado's "Preludes," heat stands for passion, anger, and the oppressiveness of life, which requires continual escapism. The story begins and ends with heat, and Delgado illustrates how heat presents itself both physically and emotionally.

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The short story "Preludes" by Daryll Delgado begins with the revelation that a singer dies after singing three songs at the death anniversary of another man. It then shifts to his wife, Nenita, who is at home at the time of his death, and then it flashes back to what she was doing before his death.

"Preludes" not only ends but also begins with the feeling of heat. Although the author refers to heat in various forms, all the manifestations of heat contribute to the emotional heat at the heart of the story. Nenita's husband has been committing adultery over and over. Although each time she takes him back and nurtures him, she also keeps handy in a hidden place a packet of poison powerful enough to "make his blood boil until his veins popped." At the end, Nenita considers that the weather is hot enough to make an old man's blood boil and his veins pop. Readers are left to wonder whether Nenita finally got fed up enough to give her husband the poison.

The first mention of heat is at the beginning of the story as the author describes the death anniversary celebration at which the singer dies. It is afternoon, the sun is high, and it is so hot that people absorb the heat internally. The music contributes to the heat people feel, implying that the heat is not just physical but emotional.

At home Nenita opens the window for a breeze before watching television, but the air is hot and dry. She falls asleep, dreams of being in the arms of a TV star, and wakes up sweating and feeling guilty. This is another manifestation of the heat, and we can see that it is connected to her conflicted emotions. She, too, longs for a lover, but unlike her husband, she is unable to follow through with her desires.

She then has a reverie about how her in-laws do not appreciate her and how she always takes her husband back after his infidelities. From this we understand her motivation for keeping poison at hand. The intensity, or heat, of the story is heightening as more of the couple's background is revealed. She keeps the poison close at hand so that she can "keep, see, touch, and feel" it. From this we realize that she has certainly contemplated ending her husband's life. In the end, the author does not disclose whether Nenita has poisoned him or he has died because of his defective heart. Either way, Nenita goes back into the house because it has become intolerably hot outside. We understand that even if she has not killed him, she will not be unhappy that he is dead.

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Daryll Delgado's "Preludes" both begins and ends with heat. In the Municipal Hall, at the death anniversary being celebrated in the first paragraph,

the sun was high. Heat seeped into people's bones. Tuba warned their blood even more.

Here, heat stands for passionate celebration. By the end of the story, however, the heat is intolerable in its intensity, strong enough "to boil an old man's blood." The heat continues constantly through the story, as something from which Nenita has to escape. In this sense, heat symbolizes the hard, oppressive nature of life, the fury of nature against humanity, which requires continual escapism to be bearable.

Nenita opens windows and points a fan at herself as she attempts to escape into her dreams, but when she wakes up, her heart is beating wildly and she is soaked in sweat. This is because the oppressiveness of life comes not only from external circumstances but from her own passions, making pain impossible to avoid. This combination of external and internal pressure affects not just Nenita but her husband, who fell ill "when the sugar and alcohol in his blood burned the sides of his heart."

As well as standing for passion in general (the passion in the music at the Municipal Hall or in the television shows Nenita watches) the heat stands for anger in particular. Nenita thinks of poisoning her husband, to make his blood boil literally as hers does figuratively. However, the oppressive physical heat in which they are both enveloped seems, at the end of the story, likely to kill her husband without her having to lift a finger. The anger of nature against all humanity saves Nenita the trouble of committing murder on her own account.

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"Preludes" by Daryll Delgado is set in the Philippines. Therefore, the first layer of heat to consider is the real, physical heat present in the country. With the sun high in the sky, the author describes how this heat "seeped into people's bones." It almost makes you sweat just thinking about it.

Another layer is the emotional heat surrounding the death anniversary party. People are excited; they want to see what good foods are prepared and who will arrive. Delgado describes how "the tuba warmed their blood even more." Music has a tendency to make one's blood race and rise to the occasion.

Finally, we can think of heat in Nenita's personal feelings toward her husband. Although it is unclear whether she loves him in a traditional way, surely she must feel angry at his many infidelities. Anger is often associated with burning and heat. She does not go through with the plan to poison him, but nevertheless her emotions must have run high.

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