Study Guide

Dreaming in Cuban Chapter 1: Ocean Blue

By Cristina García

Chapter 1: Ocean Blue

  • We meet Celia del Pino, a Cuban grandmother with strong mystical sensibilities.
  • She "guards" the Cuban coastline in front of her house by scanning for invaders with her binoculars.
  • On her watch one evening, she sees a gigantic version of her husband Jorge through her binoculars. He approaches from the sea and radiates blue light.
  • She runs to the beach to pursue him, but he disappears.
  • Celia removes Jorge's last letter to her from her pocket and reads it. He has been in New York getting treatment for cancer.
  • She reflects on her family in America, including her daughter, Lourdes, and headstrong teenage granddaughter, Pilar.
  • Celia communicates telepathically with Pilar, envisioning her granddaughter as underfed and pale (what grandma wouldn't?).
  • She moves into the water and lets herself float away as she thinks about her life there on the beach.
  • We learn that Celia had been in a delicate condition when she first moved there with Jorge.
  • She'd had a Spanish lover before him and we kind of understand that her illnesses come from disappointed love.
  • By the time Celia returns to the present, she's pretty far away from the shore. She thinks about just giving up and letting herself sink.
  • But she has to guard the coast, so she swims for it. When she reaches the shore, she has to dry out Jorge's letter.

Felicia del Pino

  • Within this chapter, we get a character sketch of Celia's younger daughter, Felicia.
  • Felicia makes a dramatic entrance the day after Celia's vision of Jorge.
  • She jumps on her Mami's lap and cries.
  • Celia tells Felicia that her father (Jorge) came to say goodbye. Felicia misunderstands.
  • Felicia reports that her sister Lourdes called with news of Jorge. The nuns at the hospital witnessed Jorge's passing, saying he "rose to heaven on tongues of fire." Trippy.
  • As Felicia leaves to write to her brother of their father's passing, she thinks the sea looks as though a tidal wave is coming. Portentous.
  • Felicia's friend Herminia interrupts her thoughts. She suggests that Felicia see a santera (a priestess of santería) to help her make peace with her recently deceased father.
  • Felicia hesitates. She can't stand the thought of another animal sacrifice to purge negative energy.
  • She agrees to go along to La Madrina, as long as there is no blood involved.
  • When Felicia arrives there, she sees a santero who claims that the deity Elleguá (god of crosroads) wants a goat sacrifice. Uggh.
  • The goat bites the dust and Felicia faints at the sight of its blood.

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