Study Guide

Dreaming in Cuban Chapter 6: The Fire Between Them

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Chapter 6: The Fire Between Them

  • Felicia del Pino slips further into her psychosis. She experiences heightened awareness of all things, seen and unseen.
  • We learn that Felicia is fascinated by the stuff of religion—rosary beads, crucifixes, veils—and that puts her at odds with Celia, who is more on the atheist side of things.
  • When they were children, Lourdes played on Felicia's gullibility to scare the pants off her, including the time when she placed peeled grapes under her bed to replicate disembodied eyes.
  • Felicia's personality has always been obsessive. She felt close to St. Sebastian as a teen because of his "double death," and refused to be confirmed because she couldn't take his name.
  • She feels that her father Jorge's "resurrection" is a sign that Judgment Day is near, but she isn't ready to face it. Instead, she dances manically with little Ivanito to blot it all out.
  • Felicia remembers her life with her abusive husband, Hugo. He left her while she was pregnant with her twins and returned only to pass on an STD and get her pregnant one more time.
  • Though Hugo marries her, he remains threatening and generally horrible.
  • Like her mother's friend Felicia, she lights her husband on fire. He survives but gets the message and stays away.
  • For the present, Felicia has descended completely into madness, despite Celia's attempts to reach her.
  • Felicia can no longer sleep and spends her days consumed by her own grief and that of others.

Ivanito Villaverde

  • Ivanito cannot comprehend his mother Felicia's behavior or actions, so his section is pure reportage.
  • He is trapped in the house with her that summer, listening to warped records, dancing and singing things he doesn't understand.
  • We learn that Ivanito knows about his father—but doesn't really comprehend—and how he was born ill because of Dad's venereal disease.
  • Before Celia takes Luz and Milagro to Santa Teresa del Mar, Felicia keeps them in and tries to force feed them coconut ice cream and meringues everyday. Ivanito plays along with her.
  • Felicia becomes more and more manic, going from hermit-like isolation in a sunless house to cleaning and cooking and dressing in her best (more on that in a mo).
  • She says apocalyptic things to Ivanito, who likes to repeat them but doesn't understand their meaning or the fact that mommy has lost her grip on reality.
  • Luz and Milagro dislike him for this and it's implied that perhaps Ivanito suffers from the same mental illness (brought on by the syphilis?).
  • Ivanito is okay with his mother's strange behavior, until she bathes him and dresses him in his best clothes.
  • Felicia makes a fancy dinner (quite a change from the coconut feast) and ends it by crushing pills onto the last of the ice cream.
  • We leave Ivanito falling asleep with his mother on the bed.

Celia Del Pino

  • Celia reflects on Ivanito's resemblance to his father, Hugo, and about the last time she saw her son-in-law.
  • It was the infamous moment when her husband Jorge broke the chair across the creep's back.
  • Jorge had already warned him not to enter the house, but Hugo was defiant. In return for the broken chair, Hugo busts his father-in-law's face.
  • Felicia faced a dilemma: if she followed her husband, she would no longer be welcome in her father's house.
  • She followed Hugo; hence, the bad blood between them when Jorge died.
  • Now, Felicia is in the final throes of mental illness and nothing that Celia or Felicia's friend Herminia can do will reclaim her.
  • Herminia employs santería practices to restore Felicia's balance (and perhaps get rid of the syphilis for good). Celia distrusts it.
  • Felicia promises her mother to travel to Santa Teresa del Mar the next day with her and Celia is happy. However, this is the day that Felicia plans to kill herself and Ivanito.
  • Celia leaves but is off balance somehow. She thinks about her own childhood and upbringing at the house of her Tía Alicia after the divorce of her parents.
  • The twins greet her with dinner at her house and a foot massage, but Celia cannot sleep that night.
  • When she wakes, she has an ominous presentiment about her daughter and tells the twins to wake Herminia. They have to return to Havana to save Felicia.

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