Study Guide

Dreaming in Cuban Chapter 12: A Matrix Light

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Chapter 12: A Matrix Light


  • Lourdes has taken to starving herself and manically exercising. She likes the feeling of purity being empty gives her.
  • She is still brooding over Pilar's willfulness and lack of respect for anything Lourdes holds sacred.
  • Lourdes is obsessed with the idea that Pilar is sleeping around at college. Lourdes loves the idea of purity and values the fact that she was a virgin when she married.
  • Now both sex and food repel her, transforming her completely from the sticky-bun-eating sex machine that she was earlier in the story.
  • She loses so much weight that her ghost-father Jorge is concerned. He still talks to her in the evening after work.
  • Both Jorge and Lourdes share the same political views, especially in their mutual hatred of Communism. Jorge encourages Lourdes to use her business concerns to support the cause.
  • By Thanksgiving, Lourdes has lost 118 pounds. She's still barely eating and astonishes Pilar with her new, slender body.
  • But at dinner, she decides to have a little piece of turkey and her appetite returns. She can stop eating after that.
  • As she and Pilar are sitting by a reflecting pool at the Frick Museum, Lourdes thinks again of the child she lost. She hears him calling out to her but she can never reach him.

Pilar (1978)

  • Pilar discusses how much more akin she feels to her Abuela Celia than she does to her mom.
  • She's found pictures of her grandmother and feels that she can see into Celia's true self in those photos.
  • Those absent memories of her grandmother somehow shape the person that she is and she feels comforted by this.
  • Pilar dislikes how her mother revises history to suit her purposes. She does this on both the personal and political levels.
  • She tells us that her mother's bakeries have become gathering places for Cuban expats who want to topple Castro's regime. They do some pretty disturbing stuff to bring this about.
  • Pilar talks about her experiences in college. She began at RISD (which annoyed her mom), spent a year in Italy studying art and then transferred to Barnard.
  • She observes that an artist can have important observations about the world even if he or she doesn't travel—but decides that she has to live in the world to make her mark on it.
  • Pilar's new boyfriend, Rubén, is Peruvian. They speak Spanish as their language of love.
  • However, things fall apart. Pilar discovers him sleeping with a Dutch exchange student and is understandably upset.
  • It's at this moment that Pilar spies an ad for a cheap bass guitar and she goes for it, remembering what her old boyfriend Max said about her promising future with the instrument.
  • She goes home with it and rocks out to The Velvet Underground & Nico. Wicked, Pilar.

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