Study Guide

Dreaming in Cuban Chapter 5: A Grove of Lemons

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Chapter 5: A Grove of Lemons

Pilar Puente

  • Pilar makes it to Miami and goes in search of her cousin Blanquito in order to get help on the next leg of her journey.
  • On her way over there, she passes a church and reflects on her unsuccessful career as a Catholic schoolgirl. She's pretty sure she's gone too far to be forgiven for her shenanigans this time.
  • When she reaches his house, there's a big family shindig going on. This is not good for Pilar, who wants to keep her escapades on the down low.
  • She can't see Blanquito in the crowd and winds up outside, in the notorious Florida afternoon downpour.
  • Pilar thinks about the changes in her mother from the time she lived in Cuba. Most of their American neighbors find Lourdes loud and obnoxious, which puts Pilar in an awkward position.
  • Tía Rosario (Aunt Rosario) finds her on the lounge chair in the backyard and brings her into the house.
  • Pilar worries that she'll be sent back to her crazy Mami.

Lourdes Puente

  • Lourdes hears Jorge announce his return as she is walking down the street. He thanks her for the great burial and promises to return to her from time to time. Daddy's girl to the extreme, eh?
  • Naturally, she panics a little. She tells her husband, Rufino, about the encounter. He blows her off.
  • Lourdes feels that things aren't right, and she confirms this when she has to fire her new employee because she caught her stealing.
  • She had been close to her father—in the absence of Celia's love—and remembers bonding with him over baseball.
  • They even loved watching it while he was dying in the hospital. These are some of her best memories.
  • Her father's "return from the dead" drives Lourdes into a whirlwind of memories. She thinks about coming to America for the first time and we get the backstory of why she had to flee Cuba.
  • Long story short: her husband's land and wealth is swallowed up by the revolution. Soldiers beat Rufino, rape Lourdes and carve something unreadable on her belly.
  • Lourdes recalls a heightened sense of smell during the assault, remembering the lemon-scented hair product in the soldier's hair.
  • A week after Jorge's return, Lourdes still contemplates her situation as an immigrant. She believes she's adapted well and hates the thought of Cuba, but she wonders about her other self.
  • Lourdes smells her father's cigar and hears his voice again. This time, she's sure he's back.
  • She remembers her mother's rejection as an infant, as though she could plug into Celia's brain and see it.
  • She and Jorge chat about Pilar, who Lourdes has already retrieved from Miami. Jorge tells her that Pilar has not yet learned to love her.

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