Study Guide

Dreaming in Cuban Chapter 2: Going South

By Cristina García

Chapter 2: Going South

  • Lourdes Puente, Celia's older daughter, appears on the scene.
  • She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter, Pilar, and owns a bakery.
  • Lourdes also has a drifting, lazy eye that "allows her to see things others can't."
  • Her daughter has been avoiding work at the bakery after school and misbehaving in other ways, so the scene opens with Lourdes writing a menacing letter to Pilar.
  • As she sets up her baked goods in the shop, she gets a call from the nuns who cared for her father, Jorge.
  • The nun who witnessed his passing saw a blue light in his room and found Jorge fully dressed, glowing from his head and hands. And then he walked out the window.
  • Lourdes feels distressed by this. Whenever she's distressed, she wants sweets and sex, much to the chagrin of her overtaxed husband.
  • While Lourdes travels to the hospital to see her dead father, she reflects on his personality. Jorge was a fastidious man, fearful of microbes. At least he'd had a shave before dying.
  • When she returns home, Lourdes realizes that Pilar is missing. Pilar is defiant and difficult. She caused her nursemaids to meet with misfortune because of her bad juju.
  • In the end, a nursemaid smeared baby Pilar with chicken blood to "cleanse her spirit."
  • Now, Pilar is 13 and at odds with her mother. Lourdes heads south to find her.
  • On this journey, Lourdes remembers the winter of 1936, when her mother, Celia, was sent to an asylum.

Pilar Puente

  • We get the 411 on Pilar's motive for skipping town: she's seen her father messing around with another woman.
  • She decides to head back to Cuba and Abuela Celia, to see if that's where she really belongs.
  • Pilar buys a bus ticket for Miami and will improvise a ride to Cuba when she gets there.
  • On the ride, she reflects on her relationship with her mom (not so good). Her mom had found her diary and learned about Pilar's sexual awakenings, so things have been tense.
  • We learn that Celia's efforts at telepathic communication with Pilar have worked. She's been listening to her grandmother's messages every night before she falls asleep.
  • Pilar feels that Celia will understand and love her better than her own mother and will accept her artistic inclinations.
  • Lourdes hates Pilar's artwork and her husband's support of it. Pilar thinks that her mother lacks vision and feels that she is creative like her father.
  • The father and daughter have workshops next to each other at home and have natural sympathies with each other against Lourdes.
  • Pilar is certain that her life would have been different if they'd never left Cuba.
  • She remembers Abuelo Jorge when he went for cobalt treatments for cancer—hence all the blue light that surrounds him in the after life.
  • Jorge had said that Pilar reminded him of Celia, which pleased her. She was taken by his romantic letters home to Celia. (We realize here that Pilar doesn't yet know of Jorge's death.)
  • As the bus crosses into Florida, Pilar shares a dream that she's had, in which she is being crowned by santeras in her grandmother's presence.

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