Study Guide

Dreaming in Cuban Chapter 16: Six Days in April

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Chapter 16: Six Days in April

  • Celia combs through her daughter's belongings in the wake of her funeral and reflects on the last rituals performed for Felicia.
  • Felicia had asked to be buried as a santera, which entailed certain clothing and rituals provided by her friends from the casa de santo.
  • When the rituals are completed, all the lumps and disfigurements are gone from Felicia's head.
  • The car carrying her coffin broke down before reaching the cemetery, so Felicia has to be carried there.
  • We finally get to see Celia in this passage, as she looks in the mirror. She is aging and her usual strength and upbeat character seem suppressed.
  • In the end, she puts on Felicia's bathing suit and goes for a swim in the ocean.


  • Pilar and her mother finally make it to Cuba. There is political unrest, as asylum-seekers have gate crashed the Peruvian embassy.
  • They stop at the house on Palmas Street, but no one gets out or talks to anyone.
  • Pilar reveals that since the assault in the park, she can hear people's thoughts and see bits of the future. And now she's certain that she'll see her grandmother.
  • As they drive along the coast, Pilar can sense all the suffering that is going on in the area.
  • When they arrive at Celia's house, they find it in a state of decay—and a battered looking Celia still clothed in Felicia's bathing suit.
  • Lourdes and Pilar bathe her and notice her missing breast. Pilar realizes just how much her grandmother has aged and faded. As Celia sleeps, Pilar can see her disturbing dreams.
  • Lourdes is disgusted by everything in Cuba and with El Líder and tries to make her displeasure known wherever they go.
  • Pilar observes that Cuba looks like a Latino version of 1950's America, with cars and fashions from that period of time.
  • In the evening, she sits with Celia on her wicker swing, as she used to when she was a baby, and listens to her abuela's childhood memories. Pilar feels Celia passing on her life to her.
  • Celia reveals that when Jorge took her to the asylum, she foretold Pilar's coming. Jorge didn't understand the prediction at the time.
  • She feels that her personal history has been jumbled up by the death of her daughter and that only Pilar can save her by remembering.


  • Lourdes' narrative focuses on Ivanito, who comes to join them on their visit. The boy hasn't eaten well and Lourdes blames the political climate on the island for it.
  • Luz and Milagro also visit with their aunt and cousin, but are guarded because they fear the newcomers will be like their mother.
  • It turns out that both Ivanito and Lourdes are accomplished dancers and the two garner applause one evening when they are out.
  • Ivanito is now 13 and Lourdes feels that Cuba has nothing to offer him.
  • Lourdes drives out to her husband's old ranch and reflects on how decayed everything now looks. She also thinks about her husband and his hardworking ethic, which she appreciated.
  • When she gets to the finca, she thinks about the child she lost there and the rape, fearing that all of her suffering might have had no meaning.
  • She sees the inhabitants themselves are ruins of people, and she doesn't know why she's there anymore.


  • Ivanito has a meaningful dream in which he gallops off on a horse, but doesn't know where he is going—only that he can't stop.
  • He speaks of his attachment to Pilar. He feels he can speak to her as he has never done before.
  • Luz and Milagro, however, don't warm up to Pilar. Ivanito observes that they have each other, but that he is left alone.
  • Ivanito can also see that his Tía Lourdes has taken a shine to him. It's clear that she's trying to lure Ivanito with the free enterprise and wealth of the U.S., but Ivanito is uncertain.
  • Pilar asks Ivanito to take her to Herminia, so that she can learn more about Felicia and, ultimately, herself.
  • Herminia tells stories about Felicia and then brings them back to the altars in the house, where she begins channeling Felicia's spirit.


  • Pilar has brought her art supplies with her and now wants to paint a portrait of her grandmother. She allows Celia to make decisions about her depiction.
  • She paints a series of portraits of her, all dominated by the color blue, because she is overwhelmed by how many blues exist in Cuba.
  • As Pilar paints, Celia tells her about Cuba, from her point of view. Lourdes objects loudly.
  • It's apparent that Lourdes has been in a state of political and social indignation since she reached Cuba and will offer her opinions wherever she goes.
  • But even Pilar has to admit that it is a hard life there, no matter how much she romanticized it before.
  • Celia hands off her box of letters to Pilar and also a book of García Lorca's poems. She recites them all for Pilar.
  • It's at this point that Pilar begins dreaming in Spanish. She describes it as a magical kind of change working in her.
  • Despite all this, Pilar realizes that her place is in New York. She dreads telling her grandmother this.


  • Lourdes goes to the Peruvian embassy in Havana to see if the rumors about the asylum-seekers are true.
  • Guess who she runs into there. Just guess. (Hint: He has a beard and wears army fatigues).
  • Lourdes can't believe that she is close enough to Castro to murder him. Instead, she yells at him. He completely ignores her.
  • Castro announces that the would-be emigrants are free to go wherever they wish.
  • Lourdes returns to her mother's house and realizes that she can't keep her promise to her dead father and apologize to her mother for him. She can only remember Celia's rejection of her.
  • In the morning, she packs Ivanito's bag and rushes him off to Havana. She wants him to join the asylum-seekers at the Peruvian embassy.
  • Lourdes tells him to take the first plane he can get out of Cuba and she will come to fetch him.
  • Ivanito wants to know what will happen to Celia, but Lourdes just urges him to go.


  • Pilar figures out what her mother is up to with Ivanito, so she persuades Herminia to drive her to Havana. She takes Celia with her.
  • On the way, Celia reflects on the departures made by various family members. It's obvious that she's in pain from it all.
  • Chaos reigns around the Peruvian embassy. Pilar is struck on her forehead by a stone and is carried through the embassy gates by the crowd.
  • She spots Ivanito and is able to get hold of him, but she decides to leave him there. She tells Celia that he must have gotten on the first plane to Lima.


  • Celia has had a traumatic day, to say the least. Now we see her seeking refuge in the beach, as she often does.
  • As she moves toward the water, she remembers her life with Tía Alicia and her old desire to travel to Spain and become a flamenco dancer.
  • Celia submerges herself in the water and feels somewhat amphibious. The lady can breathe through her skin and wounds.
  • She surrenders her precious pearl earrings to the sea and imagines their luminescence being darkened by the depths of the sea.

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