Cristina Garcia's Dreaming In Cuban

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Cristina Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban is narrated through a multiplicity of voices as the characters struggle to reconcile their identities either within Cuba or as immigrants in America. These narrative accounts express the consequences of political unrest in Cuba (between 1972 and 1980) on the formation of a stable identity, as well as the consequences of such on family kinships. As such, the main themes expressed throughout the novel include displacement and distance, which are prominently reflected through the characterizations of Lourdes and Pilar, and their connection to Cuba and America. Cristina Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban, then, explores the consequences of cultural exile on shaping a stable sense of self-identity, challenging the idea…show more content…
Pilar views her absence from Cuba from a place of psychological trauma, viewing her exiled state in the same way as her destiny: uncontrollable, regardless of her misunderstanding of the political turmoil and consequences associated with Cuba (Garcia 199). Because of this, Cuba’s absence—which is felt strongly by Pilar—becomes a source of paralysis for her; she is unable to form a stable, American identity, hyperaware of her liminality between being Cuban or American. This also causes estrangement within Pilar’s family, especially in consideration of her relationship with her mother. In fact, Pilar, in a state of confusion and desperation, remarks at one point in the novel, “I wonder how Mom could be Abuela Celia’s daughter. And what I’m doing as my mother’s daughter. Something got horribly scrambled along the way” (Garcia 178). Pilar also consistently “waits for her life to “begin” (Garcia 179), unable to reconcile the “surrounding majority culture” of America (Garcia 137) with its symbols and associated images of freedom and justice, and with her own fractured sense of self. In fact, the symbolism behind the “American Dream” and the Statue of Liberty remain unattainable, distant concepts for Pilar, who believes them to be superficial ideals in her desire to return to Cuba—a switch from absence to presence. However, while Pilar believes that Cuba may be the place where she “belongs” (Garcia 58), she does not realize until the concluding scenes of the novel that what she actually seeks is closer familial ties, mistakenly desiring the presence of Cuba, or “reintegration with a place she never truly knew” (Vasquez
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