Inside of the story are little poems from vermin which remind us of the equalizing power of death and which in and of themselves are little masterpieces. There is a lot going on in this story, too much to do justice to in a blog, but here are a few tidbits that I think contribute to an understanding and appreciation of the story. The title story opens the collection, a tale of a maiden aunt who is bitten on the leg and inhabited by a prawn. Despite the stigma associated with a prostitute, Isabel la Negra is transformed into a powerful woman who is assertive, in addition, an aspect of selfless goodness is attributed to her. The deep level of interpretation which we can grasp is the very complexity of the woman- who can not be defined solely through her social position determined by coordinates which she can not control such as gender, race and social position. The relationship which they share with the same man also contributes to the creation of their portrait. However there is little freedom in that, since all her tasks and duties are imposed based upon coordinates such as race, belonging to a certain social class and naturally having been born with the female sex in a society in which the superiority of a gender is determined by the belonging to a certain sexual biologic conformation.
You really do an excellent job capturing those ideas in your post as you describe the blending of cultures that is so integral to Puerto Rican identity. As I begin my first post of the Spotlight Latino series, I decided to put the spotlight this week on prolific Puerto Rican writer Rosario Ferré. Her main call is to be a devoted mother and respectable wife who defends and protects the honor of her husband, Ambrosio. Right from the beginning however it must be mentioned that both authors under analysis are well-known feminists. Both statuses imply a tragic dimension. Although this is not directly what happens in the story, there is a definite element of it.
Besides the obvious issue of race, this story also presents the conflict of gender. This story was a purposely very thinly veiled reworking of the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer which I really enjoyed. The division and overlap of the two entities seems to show that a complete division is not possible, because women are subjected to impossible expectations of being both sexual and pure. I've read both the original and translated versions as a graduate student but also as an instructor of Caribbean literature in the Netherlands. It has been on my reading list since it was mentioned to us at our meeting, but I hadnt gotten to it. Social classes are defied in this story but in some of the most deplorable ways imaginable — and that is interesting… warped, but interesting.
Man, being the superior being in this social context is also the owner of all properties. Taking the analysis further the reader might understand that just like a woman is more than her social persona, it is the same thing with men. Under the circumstances in which society is characterized by the hegemony of the male species, one could understand that Ferre is actually contesting the present hierarchy. Trigger warnings: death, cheating, misogyny, slut shaming, hit and run. Ferre brilliantly deconstructs the limited roles Puerto Rican women have traditionally been assigned. Could I actually borrow it from you in the next week? Might try a novel of her's first before I pick this back up.
While I have been unable to read it, I did pick up The House on the Lagoon, the other novel which the professor suggested at the beginning of the semester. She is the lady of high society, the respectful and model wife. As Isabel Luberza sits on the balcony and waits for la Negra to come, she realizes that the image that her husband held up was now dead and she comes to terms with the darker side of herself. But the stories are haunting and sensuous and they stay with you for a long time. I really liked how you discussed the connections between the plot and Puerto Rico itself. But these are not the only themes addressed by the author in the story.
In terms of power and influence, these women stand in the same relation to men as Puerto Rico itself does to the United States, and Ferré stretches artistic boundaries in writing about their situation. Overall, this story was very good and intensely and distinctly magical. What makes the story provocative is that one of the women is a highly esteemed widow, while the other one is a black prostitute. I remember how much the visiting professor emphasized the strong link between Puerto Rico and the art that is born there, and it is obvious you picked up on it. When he dies, his wife is saddened while his mistress seems happy because she has his inheritance since he left it to both of these women. When he dies they both reconstruct their lives with him, but the very existence of the other in his life and their life even if they did not know it changes their perspectives.
My bladder alerts me of its need to be relieved, so I make my way to nearest unoccupied restroom. Roger Mais One of the most interesting things about this short story is how transferable it is. But this collection is not simply an exercise in exploring the cultural identity of a nation, these stories also highlight the patriarchy prevalent in the Puerto Rican society, a strong feminist work one that I would thoroughly recommend for Women In Translation Month next month. Why Women Love Men by Rosario Ferré from The Oxford Book of Latin American Short Stories I found particularly interesting and beautifully crafted. But I think what I like most about this story is that it does not only describe a specific situation, but could be applied in many ways and discusses the topic of literal death in a truly interesting way. La Negra, conversely, enriches her life.
Both women are his property since they depend on his financial resources. Although I have not spent a great deal of time studying Hispanic Literature, I have found that any time I have encountered it, I love it. It is not by chance that the virginal wife is white while the mistress is black an works as a prostitute. Black and white, negra y blanca, are inextricably meshed and blended. Young girls should play with dolls; women should look like dolls. Since profanity is widespread in the story, the question is whether it was intentional or created an unintended effect.