Study Guide

Dreaming in Cuban Chapter 10: Baskets of Water

By Cristina García

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Chapter 10: Baskets of Water


  • Ivanito has gone off to boarding school and excels in language studies. The official second language is Russian, but Ivanito sneaks Abuelo Jorge's English texts.
  • His Russian teacher is mighty fond of him. The boys tease him for being smart and a teacher's pet.
  • Mr. Mikoyan extols the virtues of cold lands and Ivanito feels he's meant to be in an icy climate.
  • At the end of the day, Mr. Mikoyan is expelled from the school for molesting a student. When he says goodbye to Ivanito, he makes sexual advances to him.
  • Ivanito is disgusted and runs. But the boys at the school get wind of the accusations and tease Ivanito about hooking up with Mr. M in Siberia.


  • Felicia visits a santero to find out more about her future. She would like it to include another, better husband.
  • But the santero has bad news: Felicia has some serious spiritual negativity hanging around her.
  • He tells her what to do to get rid of it, but warns her that "Water cannot be carried in a basket" (148). She will never be able to keep what she desires.
  • This turns out to be too true. Felicia leaves the santero and immediately runs into her next husband, Ernesto Brito.
  • She marries him immediately, but he doesn't have the opportunity to move in to her house. He burns to death in a grease fire.
  • This causes Felicia to relapse into psychosis. She suspects pretty much everybody in her husband's death.
  • She focuses her need for revenge on a client at the beauty shop. Felicia lures her in and commits assault by perm. After that, she doesn't remember much.
  • She wakes up in a strange apartment and finds that she is married to another man, whose name is Otto. Otto is a carnival worker who wants to move to Minnesota.
  • Felicia has to work hard to grab at bits of memory. She finally remembers Ivanito calling to her and falls into despair.
  • Otto has no idea about Felicia's past. He feels so blessed to have found Felicia wandering around the streets and so willing to take him as a husband.
  • He's so turned on by her, in fact, that he attempts a spectacular sexual feat with her on a moving roller coaster. It doesn't end well.


[Note: The year was so nice, the author deals with it twice in this chapter]

  • We skip back to the day after Felicia assaulted Graciela in the beauty shop and get things from Celia's point of view.
  • Javier picks this day to return from Czechoslovakia. He's a crumpled up mess.
  • Celia learns that his wife has left him for some visiting professor from Minsk and has taken their daughter with her.
  • She observes that Javier looks carved up: he has a lump on his neck and a scar on his back.
  • Although Celia is happy to see her long-lost son and to nurse him back to health, it also brings her to a place of despair. She wonders if Javier has inherited her inability to be happy in love.
  • She also resents having to give up her activities in support of the Revolution in order to nurse her boy back to health.
  • Celia is so preoccupied with him that she hasn't thought of the missing Felicia, or Pilar or anyone else in the family.
  • But Javier does not get better. Celia finds the santera who "diagnosed" her in 1934 and brings her to the house.
  • This is where it gets freaky. The santera prays in front of the house and gets into a spiritual groove—and then spontaneously combusts. That cannot be good.
  • It doesn't really matter in Javier's case, anyway, since he's already left. He'd been talking about running off and dying in a conga line!
  • At that moment, Celia finds a lump in her breast. She has to have her breast removed and realizes that the remaining scar looks just like Javier's. (Hint: Javier was ill, too).

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