Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Saints” is told in the first person, and significant portions of it are direct quotations from Mamá Lupita. A critical element of the story’s style and technique, therefore, is the use of voice. Every person, and every character in a story, has a way of speaking that tells a great deal about that person’s background, habits of mind, education, and emotional state. Indeed, the way one speaks is perhaps what tells most about a person. A person’s voice also tells more than what a person wishes to tell. For example, when Mamá Lupita denounces men, she does so with great verbal fluency and an eye for ugly detail. When she says that she wanted to be a priest herself, the reader can infer more. Clearly, she is an intelligent person who deeply resents the roles of housewife, mother, and martyr that, being a woman, she was obliged to accept.

Much of the story’s humor comes from the narrator’s or Mamá Lupita’s choice of words. For example, the prim, grim, and churchy seriousness of the story of Saint María Goretti is undercut with Soveida’s ironic wording. The man who raped the saint, for example, found the beginnings of his downfall reveling lasciviously in pictures of naked women he hid under his bed. Soveida clearly knows of the pleasures of purple prose; she has reveled in it since childhood.