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Monthly Archives: July 2013

3.7 Paula (Pages 289-330)

By Yosálida C. Rivero-Zaritzky

SUMMARY:
As Paula’s condition remains the same, family members gather to visit her and support her mother. Ernesto is able to travel for visits. While he is there, he has a dream and, in despair, looks for Isabel during the night to tell her about it. After talking, they perform a farewell ritual, although Isabel is not completely ready for it; a mother never is. She says she has visions and dreams as well, and her health is suffering from all her emotional pain– not only her health, but also her relationship with her husband whose pragmatic minds finds placing Paula in an institution a more reasonable solution than keeping her at home. Nevertheless, he does not articulate such thoughts because it would only serve to separate him from his wife.

Isabel refers then to the time they both met. As she mentioned before, his life was a novel, a fact she suspected at their first encounter, when she ended up spending the night in his house and leaving the next morning for Venezuela. It was an unusual farewell; after what was supposed to be a one night stand, she asked him to commit to a relationship, arguing that she was 44 years old and had no time to play around. Once she arrives in Venezuela and informs her son about it, he laughs and tells her to go back for a week to get Willie out of her system. She does, but she does not come back. She stays in San Francisco until the present.

She went back to Chile with her husband, Willie, for the plebiscite scheduled by Pinochet. Pinochet wanted to create the impression that his regime was democratic. Blinded by power and accustomed to the silence he had imposed on the citizens, he unwittingly set a trap for himself. The campaign against him was called NO. SÍ was for him to stay in power and NO was to call for elections in a year. This campaign had very little exposure, only 15 minutes a day on public television at a time when everybody would be sleeping. This campaign was very creative and in the end won. As result, the following year Chile had the elections that took Pinochet out of the presidency.


Trailer from the movie NO based on the campaign that overthrew Pinochet in 1989.

One morning Allende noticed her daughter’s condition had drastically changed. Her mother and she got together in Paula’s room and started to say goodbye. Other members of the family came by without being warned, just because they felt they needed to be there. With laughs and tears, they reminisced about Paula’s life and stayed with her until she parted.

PERSONAL RESPONSE:
Of these three books, this one is closest to my heart. First because I am a mother of two little girls, and also because I am an immigrant. As a mother there is no greater fear that seeing a daughter or a son suffer, or worst of all, die. The first time I read Paula, I was single and without children. This time it has been harder to read and my experience with the book has been different.

As an immigrant, the book reminds me of lost relationships, a lack of contact with the land, extended family, traditions and history, and the sentiment that with the years I have become a foreigner both here and in my native country. One lays down new roots, but there is always the question of what could have been.

I am Venezuelan. I have not been in my country for 12 years, and I will end the hiatus this coming week when I travel there. I am not ready for what I will find. For certain, it is not the same country I left or grew up in. I smiled at Allende’s description of Caracas in the 80s because her perception was quite different than mine, and then I inferred that Santiago de Chile was even more mellow. In her own words, it took her a while before she could really understand Venezuelan. I lived there in the period described in the book; I could walk the streets with nothing to fear, and, like Paula, could navigate almost any part of the city without thinking that something might happen to me. That will not be the case now, but I miss family and friends, places and flavors, and I need to return.

As a nation, we Venezuelans are going through a very difficult time politically, and that has given us more political awareness, especially among the youth whose future is now in jeopardy. We are fighting against a new type of dictatorship that calls itself democracy, but reading Paula I look at how Chile got rid of their dictatorship and I am hopeful that we will see better days.

 
31 Comments

Posted by on July 23, 2013 in 3 Allende

 

3.6 Paula (Pages 229-289)

By Tiffany Wright

SUMMARY:
The beginning of this section, Allende starts off with a new life being brought into the world, her granddaughter Andrea.  Allende recounts her son’s birth as it was twenty-five years ago.  The family television room that was once the birthing place for Andrea now becomes what is to be considered the final living quarters for Paula. Allende embarks on another journey that she seems to have realized that she may not come out the way she had hoped in the beginning with Paula.  Allende seeks spiritual healers again as she once did before in Madrid.  There was a hypnotist, a magnetic mattress salesperson, an astrologer, and Apache, and a woman from India.

Then again she interweave the painful present with stories from her past. Even though she walked out on her family for a three-month fling, they welcomed her back. She left Michael after he had lost his mother and father, and was trying to take the children along as well. It did take at least two years for everything to go back to normalcy. Michael worked out of the city and was rarely home. Paula was much like her mother, and Allende tells of it. While Allende was away Paula assumed the responsibility of looking after her brother, just as Allende had to do with her brothers. Later Allende mentions the love affair Paula has before deciding to settle down with her studies. They both share a passion to help the unfortunate. Allende helped refugees make it to embassies that provided asylum, and Paula went around educating and providing help in areas that not police would go after dark.  In this section she has published three books with the help of ghosts or spirits. Though Allende feels alone in the silence of her life she continues to try and make it seem like nothing compared to that of what her daughter will never experience again. Allende recalls the school she helps a friend turn around when she decides the stage of childhood of her life is over. However, they (Allende and the friend’s mother) use luck potion to bring luck to the school. Allende later uses it to bring customers back to Michael’s business.

PERSONAL RESPONSE:
Isabel Allende’s determination to hold onto her daughter shows how a mother’s love for a child can be hindering.  However, after she gets Paula to California, the results come back that Paula will never be able to function in life on her own any more, Allende decides that there will no longer be any additional medical procedures being performed on Paula. She opts for more spiritual healing services. I think this is still a way to prolong the inevitable. I noticed that Allende coached Michael’s mother to give up and die but then hangs on for dear life to her daughter’s.

Allende’s life seem to have a “when it rains it pours” air to it.  Whenever one bad thing happened it soon followed by another and then another. However, the bad situations were preceded by something good at first. Paula was just as adventurous as her mother. Paula dared to be different and was yet simple and humble when doing so. I find that as her grandmother Meme, had been so involved with other things Allende seem to be doing the same thing to her husband. However, he waits patiently on standby to embrace her whenever the opportunity presents itself.

 
21 Comments

Posted by on July 21, 2013 in 3 Allende

 

3.5 Paula (Pages 183-229)

By Niyati Patel

SUMMARY:
This section of the book begins with describing Chile being a nation of war in the beginning of 1973. Isabel talks about what is going on with the Public and the Government. She also talks about the states of many cities because there was no way to transport items from one city to another. Salvador Allende was having a hard time getting his voice hears and shortages were everywhere that Isabel had to begin hoarding food.

She now is in the present and she is telling Paula that Celia and Nicolas want Isabel there with them for the birth of their baby. She also tells Paula about her recovery after she wakes up from her coma and all the different tests are done to her. Another thing is she tells Paula that she is going to give her, the same advise on how to having the baby that she gave to Celia. Ernesto had a strong reaction to the perfume that the women in the elevator had on because that was the one Paula had worn. Then Isabel Suggests taking another women out on a date and Ernesto declines. After some time Isabel is irritated by the way the doctors look at Paula because they see her as a case rather then a person.

Isabel now takes us back to the past on September 11, 1973 when Allende was killed and the events that happened that day.  She specks about how the day was when the Coupe was occurring, no one was out in the streets and everything was quiet. She stated that the day Salvador Allende died was the same day the terror began. The section of the Book ends with Isabel describing her life after Allende’s death.

The new section starts with the present once again. Isabel is told that Paula has brain damage, the hospital does not know the cause, and nothing can be done for her now. Isabel is having a hard time accepting this so Isabel decides to take Paula to California with her. While leaving Ernesto’s and Paula’s apartment, Ernesto hands Isabel a letter that had Paula’s writing on it “To be opened after I die” (209).

Paula is now settled in the Clinic and Isabel finds out that the brain damage was caused by an accident or error in her treatment. In the rest of the section Isabel goes on talking about her life during the terror.


Fragments from the film “Machuca”

PERSONAL RESPONSE:
In this section I learned a lot about Isabel, she is brave and quite forgiving. Her brave aspects are shown when she is involved in many underground activities. Even though at first she was not aware of the risks involved with helping people find asylum or delivering packages to people. She states in the book that she and Michael realize the twisted reality of their life in that how a simple task of delivering a letter can cost your own life or be subjected to torture and death. Even though she often thinks that maybe she should have stayed in Chile during the dictatorship and not left. But, in my perspective I would have left long ago and not waited it out the long time she had.

The forgiving aspect saw was when she found out about the cause of Paula’s brain damage and the cause was most likely the hospitals fault and not the illness’s. She does not go after them or anything but merely accepts the prognosis. I know for sure if that if I was in her position I would not have taken the path that Isabel took but quite the opposite.

 
23 Comments

Posted by on July 19, 2013 in 3 Allende

 

3.4 Paula (Pages 139-183)

By Ethan Parrish

SUMMARY:
This section begins with Isabel discovering a feminist side of herself and getting a job with a feminist magazine. The magazine causes a stir in a male dominated society and when Isabel manages to interview an unfaithful wife it demolishes the pretense that women were simply subjective and did nothing out of line. However, at home she remains the perfect housewife and does not stop to think that her new ideals should come into her everyday home life.
Isabel receives a notice to come identify the body of Tomas Allende and she originally thinks that it is her brother, but upon arrival it is her father. Thankfully for her, Tío Ramón comes as well and identifies the body to cease all doubt. Upon the identification they learn that Isabel has a half brother and her father had three other children whom he gave the same names as her and her brothers. This is an intense moment in her life, but not the first dead body that she had seen. The fisherman that molested her was found dead the day after the incident and Isabel walked up on the body. She lost the contents of her stomach and felt extreme guilt that their mutual sin had resulted in only his death.
Paula is moved from intensive care and Isabel remarks that she is like a two-week-old baby. Isabel tries to work out Paula’s muscles on her own, as the hospital is short staffed to little avail. Willie tries to visit as often as possible and while he is there Isabel can sleep without medication and feels calm. However, Willie feels that there is no hope and Paula is lost. The other comfort that Isabel draws from is a sort of family that has been created out of the other patients in the ward, nuns, and the family of the patients; they trade stories and comfort. One day she takes Paula outside and one of the group dances for her, when all of the sudden Paula opens her eyes and begins to cry.
In September 1970 Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile and was the first Marxist to be democratically elected; his rise created a large divide in the country. Isabel’s mother in law “Granny” began drinking at this point, but it was a secret to most. Tío Ramón was named ambassador to Argentina and Isabel was introduced to Maria Teresa Juarez who predicted her future with four items: bloodbath in her country, her motionless for a long time, her only path was writing, and that one of her children will be known in many parts of the world.
As the section ends Aurelia, one of the hospital family, recites a poem for Paula that says Paula is ready to move on, but her mother will not allow her and holds on like an anchor.

PERSONAL RESPONSE:
Isabel becomes absorbed in a feminist movement, but does not bring it to her home. This is strange to me because it makes it seem that she doesn’t really believe in the ideals. Why would you preach one thing and yet not practice it?
When she learns of her father’s death she is not moved at all except by the fact that he had three other children that he gave his first three children’s names too. This is a very strange occurrence and seems to speak volumes about his life. The telling of her guilt about the death of the fisherman is confusing, but I assume at that age she honestly thought she had done wrong as well as he.
Isabel’s hospital family is indicative of her desire to have a family unit because for most of her life she has had limited access to family due to her excessive travel. The election of Allende to president is the beginning of the end of the fairytale that she had developed in Chile with her children and husband; the upheaval is eventually too much for the country to stand. Finally, the predictions by the woman are cryptic in that they actually came true, but the poem by Aurelia is even more so due to the fact that it is what Isabel feels, but refuses to admit.

 
16 Comments

Posted by on July 18, 2013 in 3 Allende

 

3.3 Paula (Pages 92-139)

By Marquisse Jackson

SUMMARY:
This section starts off with Paula becoming really sick and actually passing over to the other side for a while.  The doctors and nurses had even given up on resuscitating her, until her mother and grandmother came to her bedside and begged for her to live and the monitors flickered.  They were able to get her back but she has now been in a Coma for two months, and her grandmother still petitions God to save her granddaughter in exchange for her own life. (92)

Isabel then flashes back to her relationship with Michael, describing the alienation she felt from her own cousins versus the love she felt from Michael’s parents. (95)  After graduation she gets a job as a UN secretary, but her style of writing is not professional and lands her in a lower position until a man who knew her father came and moved her to the department of information where she got her feet wet in both journalism and television.  During this time she also translates romantic books from English to Spanish. (98)

To Isabel sex was a mystery.  Since at the time it was taboo, she was frustrated with figuring it out.  The “magic” pill contraceptive came out when she was young, but she never saw a condom until Paula brought one home and by then she was 40 (103).  Her introduction to sex and men and women was with a man that sold sea urchins to her grandfather and his putting her hand on his crotch and letting her know if she wants to know how mom and dad do it then meet him later in the woods.  She was 8, and it was on Christmas.  He didn’t have sex with her when they went off that night, but he sexually abused her.  Regardless of this fact, she says she doesn’t feel scared but holds a tender spot for the man who didn’t rape her.(109)

Back in her present she has the neurologist unhook Paula from the respirator in an attempt to force her to breathe, but she doesn’t and is instead put on a schedule to lower her oxygen dependency.  Willie comes down for 5 days to be with her after this event (110). She tells Paula about her and Michael’s hasty decision to wed (111).  The started off their marriage with six months paid rent and a stocked pantry in a house that was impractically large, and thieves quickly relieved them of their stores and belongings.  After her move to her grandfather’s house, she meets mama Hilda who adopts her after her bout with what she thought was syphilis (116).

Paula soon “wakes” up from her coma and opens her eyes breathing on her own,  but Paula still suffers strokes and spasms.  Ernesto’s father and her mother soon leave her due to pure exhaustion to watch over Paula alone  (130).
Isabel was given a chance to break into television talking of world hunger in the 60’s.  (131)  Michael and Isabel soon found themselves living in Switzerland and Belgium because of his engineering and her television.  They were still poor, and in their travels with Paula she never knew what it was like to have toys or solid walls since they lived in a tent. (136)  They soon returned to Chile after she became pregnant with Nicolas.  (138)


PERSONAL RESPONSE:
This is definitely an important part of the book that deals with birth and death.  Isabel talks of the grief and disbelief she had in the death of her uncle.   She talks of how that tragedy was so abrupt that no one even could bare to speak of him.  He grandfather is an interesting man who reminds me of many old men, the type who are just waiting to die but end up outliving us all out of pure obstinate thinking.  I think her whole compare and contrast of his fighting spirit when compared to her daughter fighting her coma shows how much she believes in her family’s strength.  So when Paula comes back from being dead and then is eventually able to work herself off her respirator, it’s amazing to see the fight in her.

Of course then there are the two births of her kids and how when they happen she says she knew before she took a test.  How even with her not knowing much about sex early on, she could always predict when she got pregnant at the exact moment, and that pregnancy was not as much of a choice as a natural step in her life.  Even with her progressive mindset, marriage and children were still in her plan.  She didn’t just want the career, but even states that she looked forward to Michael working and supporting them while she stayed home with the children.

Her being pressured into an early wedding was an obvious mistake, and the situation pretty much turned out as bad as it could.  But even through all of that, she never gave up.  Even when all her things were stolen and their house vandalized, they simply moved on and kept going.  The traveling back and forth was obviously something they wanted to do, but I imagine it was very interesting with a 2 year old.

 
18 Comments

Posted by on July 17, 2013 in 3 Allende

 

3.2 Paula (Pages 49-92)

By Jake Lankford

SUMMARY:
This reading begins with Isabel and her mother back at the hospital with the dying don Manuel sighing, “May God watch over your princess” (50).  She recalls the times when she used to go read her father’s “forbidden books” in the cellar of her grandfather’s house.  At this time in her life, she begins to learn a lot about life’s lessons through Tío Ramón and describes her own reign of terror with Margara.  “Santa Clause” teaches young Isabel to not be greedy in the parts of life that cannot be changed, while her mother and Tío Ramón give her a passion for art starting with a Chagall picture; as she is allowed to create her own mural.  Isabel describes the intense love between Paula and Ernesto, after Paula decided that, “I want a man, a love like yours” (57).  To describe her own first love, Isabel goes into the sequence of when her family moved to La Paz and her first experience in a co-ed school.

After Bolivia, diplomatic necessities called Tío Ramón to Lebanon; where the family would spend three years.  Isabel admits that she harbored some hatred for Tío Ramón; however, “he earned his avuncular title as a symbol of admiration and confidence” (63).  Isabel was educated in an English school that taught her to memorize most of the Bible; however, this conflicted with the belly-dancing and whispers of “Elvis Presley” (65).  Tío Ramón goes through a challenging teaching session with Isabel, where she, “learned how to defend herself”.  She gives detailed experiences of encounters with North Americans and their rock ‘n’ roll.  Another lesson from Tío Ramón is learned when he catches the children stealing from his three-sectioned wardrobe.  She learns of sex and mystery in a copy of A Thousand and One Nights that she finds in this same piece of furniture.  The next sequence describes one of Isabel’s dreams where Paula dies and floats to Heaven.  She continues to have these “horrific visions” and says that she has, “two lives – one waking, and the other sleeping” (73).  Also, she states that she has, “come to term with the Spanish culture”; and that her mother likes ugly men, but that she was, “a fighting bull” (74).

We find out that Carmen, Isabel’s agent, is the one who urges Isabel to write to Paula, so that she does not go crazy and so Paula can read what happened while she was in a coma.  Many family members come to visit, including Ernesto’s father and Willie from time-to-time (Isabel’s husband).  Even with the writing, Isabel still, “loses interest in the news of the world” and visualizes her daughter, “inside a glass pyramid isolated from harm in a magic space” (79).  As Isabel describes her pain, she reflects on the events surrounding her First Communion, “in which her uncertainty began” (80).  Ernesto’s father keeps his son active so that he also does not go crazy, and Isabel is humbled by his presence and respect he has for his daughter-in-law.

Another flashback sequence leads us to the markets of Beirut and the inherent bargaining skills that her mother seemed to possess; however, violent uprisings in July 1958 over the Suez Canal saw the invasion of U.S. Marines, gun battles, and crude forms of execution.  It is during this time that she finds more confidence in Miss St. John, her English teacher who did her best to keep the school open amid the opposing forces.  Finally, the Lebanese government advised all diplomats and their families to leave the country, “as their safety could not be guaranteed” (87).  This caused Tío Ramón to be reassigned to Turkey, while the children to move back into their grandfather’s house in Chile.

From this point on, her grandfather made her get an education.  It was during her education that Isabel fell in love with Paula’s father, Michael, “which was the beginning of a long, sweet courtship destined to last many years before being consummated” (91).  Her grandfather remarked how the English descendant would, “improve the race”, jokingly giving Isabel a hard time when, “she admitted to him that she was in love” (92).

PERSONAL RESPONSE:
This part of the read definitely pulls at a person’s heartstrings; as we learn all of the hardships that Isabel went through, the intense love that is shared between Paula and Ernesto, and the affection that everyone has towards Paula once they simply see her.  I really like the way that Isabel tells the story of her life and how it is interconnected with so many different people all over the world.  However, I found myself very melancholy because I believe that, as much as I do not want to, that Paula will not recover as the reading goes on and on.  The reading is supplemented by the intense description of La Paz, Beirut, and of Santiago – all places that scream culture, but are countered with encounters with the ugly side of life (people trying to rape/have sex, cheat people on bargains, and treat others as something less than human).  Through these descriptions, Isabel gives us a perfectly balanced story of how life really tends to play out in reality –it can be beautiful and harsh, gentle and violent, and lively but deadly.

The deep character descriptions; of Tío Ramón, of Ernesto and his father, and of some of Isabel’s past loves all culminate to produce a reading that makes me feel personally touched by that character – like I actually know them and can see them vividly in a representation of life.  I do not really appreciate the way the world treats women in Isabel’s past; however, I understand that the problem had to be recognized for people to change and alter for the betterment of all parties involved.  It is still sad that these misjudgments of character and mistreatment/abuse of woman continues to this day in some parts of the world and in isolated instances in the United States (for example, Ariel Castro, the man convicted of enslaving and beating 3 woman and his very own child that he produced in captivity –recent American news http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/ariel-castro).

On the brighter side, I was mesmerized by the deep love that Ernesto has for Paula and see his long battle as a representation of the love that some people never truly grasp/understand – something that I believe is True Love.  This love gives Ernesto the strength to continue on, giving himself a calmness and certainty that spreads to others around him, even seen in the nursing staff.  Overall, this is one of the best reads that I found has stirred my emotions inside, and given me an appreciation for the life that I do have.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in 3 Allende

 

3.1 Paula (Pages 3-49)

By Elizabeth Blakley

SUMMARY:
Isabel Allende’s novel immediately makes it clear that the narrator is sharing her story with a specific subject, as she addresses Paula by name and demands her attention. It is soon revealed that Paula is Allende’s daughter, and is presently comatose in the care of hospital staff. This came to be after she suffered from an acute attack of Porphyria – a diagnosis which she had received some time ago, and continually worked to manage – and was hospitalized for treatment. After her attack escalated and she stopped breathing, the hospital managed to revive her and continue to provide medical care. However, she became irate when lucid again, and the staff sedated her in order to keep her under control. At the time of Allende’s narration, a month has passed and her daughter has not woken up from this sedation.

Allende chooses to write the story of her daughter’s life and family history, as her way of processing the despair which she feels upon seeing Paula become unresponsive. She begins with the tale of how her (Isabel Allende’s) own grandparents met, and the loving relationship which formed between the stoic man and the woman who was deeply fascinated by the supernatural. Their bond is painted as widely positive, though Allende does acknowledge that the couple could rarely truly view one another as equals – with the final exception coming at the moment of her grandfather’s death. She then goes on to explain her own mother’s life, telling of how she married an aristocrat and moved to Peru. With an absentee husband, who was far more interested in his personal exploits than with his wife or family, she was left largely alone to raise her growing number of children. However, when her husband was involved in a scandal and fled, she returned with her children to Chile to live with her parents. The rest of the reading focuses on Allende’s childhood, her family’s belief that children were not to be pampered but prepared for a difficult life, and the eventual courtship and remarriage of her mother to a man named Ramón.

PERSONAL RESPONSE:
As someone fascinated by child development, I find the generational difference in Allende’s upbringing to be fascinating. The idea that children should be subjected to sadness and discomfort simply to prepare them for a difficult life (such as when Allende’s uncles stood her on a stove’s burners, or actively tried to tease them to the point of tears) is one that is largely foreign to me, even having listened to how my own grandparents were raised. It absolutely makes sense based upon the upbringing of the adults in the household, and the society in which they lived (which was, Allende explained, one that spent most of its time in solemnity), but nonetheless it stands in startling contrast to my own experiences. I do enjoy the fact that Allende acknowledges that she would have made martyrs out of her children by attempting the same treatment today, and that this treatment was simply a necessity of the time. To see how cultural differences change child rearing strategies is incredibly interesting to me, and it can be seen in her present relationship with her family, which seems distant in comparison to the ways in which she addresses her own children.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2013 in 3 Allende

 

2.7 The Time of the Doves (Ch. 43-49)

By Yosálida C. Rivero-Zaritzky

SUMMARY:
Several years pass and Rita is now considering a career. While the couple talks about it, Antoni tells Natalia how happy he has been since she and her children came into his life all those years past. As Natalia grows old, sometimes she confuses dreams and reality, events that truly happened and those that she imagined. The story of the doves reappears in a different light and is retold by other ladies she talks to during her walks to the parks. She is still somehow nervous about being on busy streets, but she is able to navigate the streets and enjoy her walks by examining details that would go unnoticed by other people.
Natalia and Antoni also talk to Toni about a profession, but to their surprise, he wants to help with the store and be a grocer. He says he is a practical person, and later on he will decide to serve in the army in Barcelona close to his house.
Rita’s future is once again the center of discussion when Vincenc, the owner of the corner bar, comes to the house to ask for her hand in marriage. But Rita does not seem interested in the idea because she wants to see the world before she commits to starting a family. Vincenc’s perseverance wins over the family and then Rita. After a conflicted courtship, she marries him. Their wedding coincides with Natalia and Antoni’s wedding anniversary, and they celebrate it together.

Natalia wakes up early in the morning and decides to leave the house for a walk. Afterwards, she feels she has expelled something that has been drowning her for years and she can breathe and she can actually begin to experience happiness.

 

PERSONAL RESPONSE:
Memory plays an important part in this last section. Natalia still is trying to make sense of her life. For many years she was unable to do so. Thinking about certain things was simply too painful; remembering was even worse. She needed to survive and, in order to do so, she had to repress memories and channel her efforts to keep her family alive. There are two moments in the novel when her gaze has a special meaning. The first time is when she is walking to the grocery to buy the acid to kill herself and her children and she looks at her surroundings as if she is noticing them for the first and last time, trying to absorb everything and then take it with her. The second time is in chapter 43 when she gives descriptions of interior parts of different houses–spaces commonly identified with the feminine world. In a certain respect, she is trying to get at the heart of each intimate space, a metaphor of her own heart.
I am curious to know what you have to say about the part when Vincenc asks for Rita’s hand in marriage, so please answer that question below. Afterwards I may make additional comments. I should also make a cultural clarification. A bar in Spain is not the same as it is here in the United States. In Spain a bar is pretty much a restaurant where families can go at any time of the day or night–yes, children go there too. On the other hand, in Latin America working in a bar is often considered a job of ill repute.
My favorite passage in this part is when Natalia makes this insight about the nature of time: “the time inside me, the time you can’t see but it molds us. The time that rolls on and on in people’s hearts and makes them roll along with it and gradually changes us inside and out and makes us what we’ll be on our dying day.” (183-84) When we are young, we think little about such things, but as we gain “experience” it’s easier to look back and see how much we have changed and how we have become who we now are.
I hope you have enjoyed this book. I have to say that the first time I read it I thought it was ok, but with time I gained a greater appreciation for it. This time, for instance, I laughed out loud at some parts, and cried at others, maybe because I now have children of my own and I could not imagine having to suffer similar situations. When I went to Barcelona last summer I wanted to visit the places Rodoreda mentions in her novel. I could not make it to all of them, but as I was getting to know some of those places, the book came alive for me.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2013 in 2 Rodoreda

 

2.6 The Time of the Doves (Ch. 36-42)

By Tiffany Wright

SUMMARY:
The beginning of this section, Natalia is dealing with being without work and a husband.  Natalia feels she is left alone to starve to death with her children. She speaks of how people are begging or digging through trash in order to survive.  The whole town is suffering because of the war.  Stores that once boomed are no longer in business.  Natalia seems depressed and without answers on how to survive any longer.  She is still thinking about her plot to kill the children with hydrochloric acid and a funnel.  Then she would drink some herself to die as well.   She later gets a job from the grocer that she used to buy birdseeds.  The grocer’s name is Antoni just like her son. He told her how’d he remember her the first time she came to the store to get the birdseeds. He remembered Quimet waiting outside for her while she came in to buy the birdseeds.
The grocer waits after a little over a year before he works up enough nerve to ask Natalia over one Sunday afternoon.  He explains to Natalia how’d the war claimed his manhood. Therefore, he could not produce any children of his own, but he still wanted a family and someone to leave his belongings to inherit.  At first, Natalia does not answer Antoni the grocer. Senyora Enriqueta assumes her role as mother again as Natalia makes another big decision in her new life.  She explains to Natalia that this would be good idea and she understood why Antoni the grocer would ask her and not someone without children.  Natalia remarries and moves with her two children. The two children are able to go to school. They experience their first Communion. The son likes the grocer very much. Natalia experiences high and low points throughout this section. Rita is growing up to be more like her father Quimet. It is the first time since Rita told Antoni that Quimet was dead that Rita actually speaks about Quimet.  Natalia starts experiencing life outside again by the end of this section.

 

PERSONAL RESPONSE:
There is hope even in despair. In the beginning Natalia thinks her life out her apartment building is like going to hell. The man going through the trash she watched, she felt he had more strength than her to even be looking through the trashcans. The woman who stood outside the church begging for money had the right idea for survival, for Natalia even thought about giving that a try.  After contemplating all of that, she decided to attempt to steal.  However, it was like God looked at the heart and said enough is enough, and the grocer gave her a job and food.  This reminded me of when the prophet from the Bible asked this women who was preparing a cake so that she and her child could die, to make him one first. This was a hard thing because that small amount of meal was all she had left. Therefore, Natalia went to steal what would be her last resort and God decided a different fate for her. Even after the grocer Antoni asked her to marry him, it was like she was afraid to be really happy.  She allowed what her daughter, Rita, said to get her thinking that she was unfaithful to Quimet because maybe he was coming back and she had not waited long enough for him.  Even towards the end of this section Natalia is overwhelmed with notions of unpleasantness that she remains unhappy for more than two, three, or more or less years because of her thoughts of Quimet.  Seems like even from the grave he is controlling her happiness, her life.  However, at the end of this section Natalia is revisiting the parks like she would do before the hard life came upon her.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in 2 Rodoreda

 

2.5 The Time of the Doves (Ch. 29-35)

By Niyati Patel

SUMMARY:
Starting chapter 29 Quimet has left and Cintet shows up at Natalia’s place with a big basket of oranges, powdered milk, and package of coffee. Natalia and Cintet talk while making coffee for him. While, having the conversation Natalia is surprised of how cintet had changed. They talk about Mateu, the doves and when he leaves he tells Natalia that when they won he would paint one of the dove rooms pink.
One morning while Natalia was on her way to work she met Julieta. They talked a little and Natalia learned about how the pastry shop owner was taken to the outskirts and killed during the first days of the revolution. Julieta and Natalia decided to meet up on Sunday to talk some more. On Sunday Julieta could not stop talking about her boyfriend in the army and how scared she was that he would be killed. She talked about the night they spent together of an abandoned home. How at the end of their time together she took one of the gowns so that it would provide her a memory of when she was lonely. Natalia wished she had a night like Julieta and it made her sad but Julieta cheered her up. When Natalia told Senyora Enriqueta about Julieta’s story she was angry and said that girls in the revolution do not have any shame.
One night when the bombers came Natalia’s father dies because he gets scared and had a heart attack. Her stepmother comes to ask about some money to help out with the funeral. When the wife left Natalia had a memory of her father and felt like she loved him in that moment. Natalia watched over her father’s body for only two hours because she had to wake up early the next day. She never saw her stepmother ever again.
One Sunday Quimet came back and told Natalia he had tuberculosis and he couldn’t be cured because of once you got it you got it for life (132). Quimet stayed for 3 days and the whole 3 days he would not stop talking about how there was no place like home and that he would never leave his home after the was has ended. There was less and less food so Natalia made the decision of sending the Antoni to a camp so that at least he could be fed. At the camp while Natalia is talking to the teacher, the teacher says that Antoni may not fit in with the crowd of boys because of his looks. Antoni really didn’t want to stay at the camp, he cried and screamed not to leave him and Rita started asking for her brother while Natalia was being strong willed. They finally left Antoni at the camp and Julieta says that she could have never done it. Senyora Enriqueta went every Sunday while Natalia never went because she didn’t have time. One day a militiaman came to inform her that Quimet and Cintet had died. She went to the roof so she could breath and found one of the doves dead.
Natalia has become a cork by making her heart like a stone because she didn’t want to feel the pain. Natalia wanted to believe that Quimet was at war and would come back and so would Cintet. She dressed in all black because she hadn’t done it for her father. Griselda came to visit and Natalia was told that she and Mateu were still friends, even though they lived separately, just for the girls. When it was time for Antoni to come home he was changes boy. He had gotten big and chubby; his head was shaved with scabs. Antoni didn’t even look toward his mother but went straight to his toys. They still had little to eat and they all slept together so if they were to die at least they die together. During winter the army started taking 16 years old boys. Natalia got to the point when she had to sell everything and she could barely buy food because she had no money and because there was no food to buy. Senyora Enriqueta comes to deliver the news of Mateu’s death and Natalia felt as if her soul had died in her heart (142).
Natalia, after she had nothing left so she went to her old bosses place to ask for a job. However, found out that hey were not hiring. One night while Rita and Antoni were sleeping she decides to kill them. She plans on killing them with Hydrochloric acid but doesn’t have the money to buy it. She one day goes walking and starts following fat lady because she liked her shawl fluttering in the breeze. Soon it started raining and she was drenched. While following the lady Natalia met Quimet’s old apprentice. The women went into a church and Natalia followed. She experienced something strange and when she saw the women’s eyes she fled to her home because she was scared.

 

PERSONAL RESPONSE:
In this section you see Natalia’s life getting worse because all her loved ones are dying and she is alone. First her father dies and she realizes that she loved him when she was a little girl and once her mother died her father died a little as well. I feel that if was weird how her fathers wife came to ask her if she wanted to help pay for the funeral and that’s all and after the funeral Natalia never her step mother ever. Another thing I found was unusual was that Natalia only stayed at her fathers place for only 2 hours and had an excuse of how she had to work early because if my father had died I would have stayed at my fathers place longer to mourn. Then her husband and Cintet die in the war and that makes her independent in the way that she gets to make all the decision for her family now on and she is the man of the family. Her status becomes so bad that she has to sell everything she owns and she has to send her son Antoni to a refugee camp so that he can have at least have food to eat. When she hears about Manteu’s death that was a breaking point for Natalia. Her situation had gotten so bad that she decides to kill herself and her children with Hydrochloric acid that she cannot afford. Even though that Natalia is thinking about killing and committed suicide I feel she is really strong because if I were put in that situation those thoughts would have came to me sooner. Only a strong person would be able to carry on that long like Natalia did.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2013 in 2 Rodoreda