Read the first three pages of Dreaming in Cuban and you'll realize something very important. There are dead people. Walking over the ocean. Living people can hear the sounds of the universe operating (including flowers growing). Catholic saints become Lukumi gods and rule the lives of humans, whether they accept it or not. All of this means one thing: you've landed in the universe of magical realism. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this kind of world is not the supernatural mingling with the quotidian. It's the absolute value of these occurrences in the lives of all the characters. Celia doesn't believe in religion, but she does step carefully around the sacred ceiba tree and leaves a prayer for Felicia. Pilar is like her grandmother: a non-believer, but still acknowledging the presence and power of invisible forces. For the del Pino family, the workings of the world beyond are just another part of a complicated life on earth.
Questions About The Supernatural
What kinds of interactions do the characters of this book have with otherworldly beings? In what ways is such contact welcomed or thwarted?
What religious or superstitious behavior is considered necessary or advisable by the characters? What are the consequences for someone who doesn't comply?
Are there any characters who choose not to interact with the supernatural in this book? What is the purpose of such non-participation?
What is the attitude of the characters toward organized religion? In what ways does that attitude differ in respect to other types of interactions with the otherworld (i.e. supernatural encounters in general)?
Chew on This
In García's work, supernatural elements may coexist alongside everyday concerns, but the preoccupation with otherworldly things is far stronger for her characters.
Although Felicia's death is dramatic and mysterious, it has its roots in more practical, down-to-earth matters.