From Lourdes' lazy eye, which takes in things that others can't see, to those in power who construct their own versions of national histories, Dreaming in Cuban challenges the concept that anyone can be an impartial and tolerant observer of an absolute reality. Navigating a world that accommodates Felicia's hallucinatory wanderings, Celia's passions, Pilar's identity crises, Lourdes' zeal, and Jorge's refusal to "cross over" can make it difficult to get at the truth of existence, if such a truth actually exists. There's also a very fluid definition of mental illness and stability in this work that profoundly affects the life of the del Pino women and how they are viewed and labeled by the men in the work (and by us as readers). In all of these cases, it's best to follow Pilar's lead and question everything.
Questions About Versions of Reality
What factors determine how we perceive the del Pino women? Are we influenced by something other than their own words and actions?
According to Pilar and Herminia, those who "write history" generally ignore all but the powerful in their narratives. In what ways do you see this working in regards to personal history in this book? Who is in power and how do they shape the stories told to the other characters about themselves and the lives of others?
How is mental illness perceived in this work?
Chew on This
Madness is often linked with the mystical or supernatural in García's work, and it is often implied that those who suffer with mental illness more in tune with larger universal truths.
Pilar has the role of mediator, balancing the reality of life in America with that of Cuba and creating a midpoint between Lourdes' Yankee Doodle zeal and Celia's passion for El Líder.