Chapters 15–16

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Last Reviewed on March 9, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 886

Chapter 15

The soles of Loca’s feet are “thicker than moccasins,” on account of her preference for being barefoot. Sofia insists that she borrow a pair of her boots for the special occasion, the first time in Loca’s life—“except at the age of three when she was taken to a...

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Chapter 15

The soles of Loca’s feet are “thicker than moccasins,” on account of her preference for being barefoot. Sofia insists that she borrow a pair of her boots for the special occasion, the first time in Loca’s life—“except at the age of three when she was taken to a hospital in Albuquerque and her death diagnosis was reevaluated as epilepsy”—that she is going into the world. Over her outfit, Loca wears her sister’s blue chenille bathrobe, which Rubén had brought to her after finding it hanging behind his bedroom door that morning, still smelling of Esperanza.

La Loca rides her horse, Gato Negro, bareback in the Holy Friday procession as Sofia and doña Felicia walk alongside. This year, no one is dressed like Mary, and no one is carrying a “life-size cross on his naked back.” Instead of hymns, they sing political songs. Instead of scapulars, they hold photos of their friends and family members who were poisoned by toxic exposure and radioactive waste. They talk about the number of people in their community living below the poverty level, in hunger, while activists have chosen to focus on more distant environmental problems. They care about “saving the whales and the rainforests,” but people on dry land are being “eliminated from the ecosystem, too . . . like the dolphins, like the eagle.” Nuclear power plants sit “like gargantuan landmines” beside their rancherías while pesticides are sprayed on their crops and the people who pick them. “No,” the narrator comments, “no one had never seen a procession like that one before.”

Six months later, when Loca is no longer able to get out of bed, she starts receiving visits from the Lady in Blue. The nun does not have any smell at all, and Loca cannot tell if she is from the past, present, or future. Loca tries to ask questions about her sisters, but the Lady is only interested in talking about her and in making her feel better. One evening as the sun sets, the Lady sings to her, and as Loca falls asleep in her arms, she thinks “that for a person who had lived her whole life within a mile radius of her home . . . she certainly knew quite a bit about this world, not to mention beyond, too, and that made her smile as she closed her eyes.”

Chapter 16

After years of encouragement from her vecinos and comadres, as well as from the hundreds of petitioners who write to her each day to ask for prayers “from the mother of the little crazy saint who died twice and her similarly ethereal sisters,” Sofia founds a “prestigious (if not a little elitist)” international organization called “M.O.M.A.S.,” Mothers of Martyrs and Saints. She serves as its first president, a lifetime appointment she will hold for the next thirty-eight years.

During Sofia’s early tenure, M.O.M.A.S. is plagued by controversy regarding their discrimination against men. While it is true that to be a member one must be a mother, it is a misconception that the child must be a daughter. On the contrary, by the middle of the century, male and female saints and martyrs are recognized in near-equal proportions. The rumors of discriminatory practices within the M.O.M.A.S. organization are thought to have originated with Mrs. Torres, mother of Tom Torres, Fe’s former fiancé. Despite not meeting the “unfortunate but crucial criteria” of having a child who had “transcended this life already,” Mrs. Torres applies for membership a dozen times over a twenty-five year period, a pattern ending only upon her own death.

Another “touchy” topic is whether an inductee’s child should be classified as a martyr or a saint. In many cases, it is difficult to distinguish between the two, with the only true distinction being that a saint must have the “unquestioning potential of performing miracles.” Martyrs, conversely, must only be “revered.” Loca, who makes infrequent “ectoplasmic appearances” at the organization’s conventions, indisputably qualifies for sainthood despite remaining an unreliable provider of blessings.

The annual M.O.M.A.S. conference becomes a world event more popular than the World Series or the Olympics. Spectators are no less thrilled by the chance to see their favorite saint or martyr in person than they are by the abundance of souvenirs, which includes T-shirts, trading cards, and personalized trinkets. Still, the annual conference is “very serious business, hombre!” The mothers compile the news and advice they receive from their children and “generously '' provide copies to friends, relatives, petitioners, and federal governments. Although politicians tend to accept the M.O.M.A.S. dicta graciously, they do so with “some obvious skepticism.”

The final rumor that has bothered the mothers for a long time, and which they would like to clear up, is the misguided idea that upon acceptance a test is performed to verify that the declared saint or martyr indeed emerged from the woman’s own womb. Although the rules do state that the transcendent child must be biological, this is purely an honor-based system. Just because popes in past eras had to prove that they had no womb does not mean that women in the present should have to prove that they do.

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Chapters 13–14