Chapter 5 Summary

Dolores gets to know her new upstairs neighbors. Rita Speight, twenty-eight years old, is beautiful, “like a little China doll.” She works as a pediatrics nurse. Jack Speight, twenty-five years old, is a disc jockey for a local rock-and-roll station. The house immediately becomes merrier. Dolores’s mother seems quite smitten by Jack. Even Grandma is charmed. Dolores is thrilled to have such liveliness in her home.

The Speights end up going to the same church as their landlords. One Sunday, Rita invites the three women upstairs for a dinner. Nothing fancy, she promises, just tacos and chili.

The three arrive right on time. Rita flings open the door, shouting “Ole!” and they all admire her velvet sombrero. Dolores loves the way the couple has modernized the apartment: beanbag chairs, a velvet painting of an African American woman, and a fur-covered recliner.

Dolores’s mother indulges in the wine she has brought to the party, and Jack keeps refilling her glass. Everyone is relaxed, even Grandma. Jack asks Dolores if she knows who else shares her name. She does not. It is Dolores Del Rio, a famous Latin American movie star. Jack also tells her the meaning of her name in Spanish: “Our Lady of Sorrow.”

After the party, Dolores starts to develop a crush on Jack. She thinks about how his wife is “attractive but not pretty” and that she “just didn’t deserve him.” Dolores begins to neglect her chores around the house. Grandma complains, but her mother just does them for her.

Dolores tries to talk to her mother about boys. She asks her who she finds attractive. Her mother offhandedly names a few celebrities. Finally, Dolores is able to ask if she thinks Jack is attractive. Her mother plays dumb for a few seconds. She sidesteps the question, remarking instead on what a “cute couple” Jack and Rita make. Dolores sneers that Rita is not pretty.

Dolores asks about her mother’s brother, Eddie. Her uncle had died long before Dolores was born. At age 19, he drowned. Dolores thinks Eddie looks a little bit like Jack. She wants to know why neither her mother nor her grandmother ever talk about him. She is unsettled by the news that her grandmother did not cry at his funeral. Her mother says Dolores's grandmother was angry about it and “did a lot of slamming.” Dolores thinks her grandmother’s lack of sorrow means that she is a “cold bitch.” Mother and daughter ride home in silence, save for the sound of Jack’s broadcast filling the air with his voice and music.

Dolores goes to her room when they arrive home and locks the door. She pretends to be a singer, crooning to Jack. She masturbates, thinking of both Eddie and Jack.