Back to School Offer

Get 20% of Your First Order amount back in Reward Credits!

Get 20% of Your First Orderback in Rewards

All papers examples
Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)
HIRE A WRITER!
Paper Types
Disciplines
Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)

Dreaming in Cuban, Essay Example

Pages: 7

Words: 1804

Essay

In the book Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia, the concept of food plays a significant role in the identities as well is the dysfunctions of its major characters. In particular, the character represented by Lourdes demonstrates problems with both food and sex, and are connected with issues of abandonment as well as complicated relationships with the hunger for each. This paper will discuss the ways in which food  serves as a means of communication between characters and identities, and the ways in which these identities are developed.

When Lourdes first appears in the novel, her overeating and tremendous sexual appetite is alluded to when it describes her husband, Rufino, who was asleep next her: “She has exhausted poor Rufino again. (Lourdes) puts on her size 26 white uniform…” Her excesses of food and sex are immediately apparent, and serve as metaphors for her appetite for some nourishment that has been unattainable. In this novel, food also represents power; Lourdes is a successful woman who owns her own bakery, and in the novel as she grows larger in physical size, she also increases her success as a businessperson.  This is demonstrated by the fact that by the end of the book, she owns two bakeries and aspires to eventually own a chain of bakeries all across the country. Initially, Lourdes is working at a paperwork job involving keeping records for patients who were deceased, but she achieves her greatest pleasure in providing nourishment for others. Much of that delight comes from baking products that are beautiful and appealing to her customers. This gives her a sense of power, the ability to become a businessperson because in the United States she is able to pursue  the American Dream, as opposed to  are relatively powerless status in Cuba.

Lourdes’ being a female includes her role as a nurturing woman, providing food for others as well as for herself, and her obesity is merely one sign of that role for other people as well is in soothing herself. She has turned her extreme need and hunger for food into a profitable business that has brought her success as a businesswoman that includes both the beauty of her creations as well as providing nurturing and comfort to her customers through attractive, desirable food: “Lourdes lines the display cases with paper doilies and organizes the croissants and coffee rings…” She also starts the day brewing fresh coffee for her customers, finding comfort for herself in providing food and caring for others, while taking care of her own emotional needs in the form of food.

The bakery serves as a place that enables her obesity, as well is an escape from meeting obligations pertaining to her family, who have abandoned her consistently. When she is informed that her father has died, she is too busy getting ready to open her bakery to take a break from her preparing products to pay her respects to her father. When she feels stressed, she soothes herself with food, such as when her daughter is missing, and in Pilar’s absence, she consoles herself by eating a 2 ½ pound mass of “pecan sticky buns” and she herself becomes the symbol of the “dough that immediately begins to swell”, becoming an enormous size.” During the evening when Pilar remains missing, she thaws out the gigantic loaf and consumes the entire thing by midnight; her husband is unable to comfort her, and she sublimate her anxiety into what is commonly known as binge eating. She converts her hunger for comfort–whether it is fear, anger, or anxiety—into a tangible hunger for food, but which does not meet her real needs. The pecan sticky buns  have filled a hole that has been made by her missing daughter and her emotionally absent husband.

Lourdes’ use of food as a substitute for appropriately meeting her emotional needs does not quench her hunger for what she is really seeking: when her father, Jorge, appears in New York City for treatment of cancer, Lourdes compulsively increases her need for sex and food. When she begins caring for her father, and experiences unwelcome sexual desires for him, instead, once again, she seeks food and constant sexual activity from her husband. Her sexual appetite is so overwhelming to her husband that he begs her to stop; however, like most eating disorders and sexual addictions, no matter how much she receives, she is never satisfied because what she is seeking, unbeknownst to her, is not her husband Rufino, but a longing for her father.

Classic Freudian theory involving the Oedipus complex suggests that in this situation, while Lourdes appears to be desirous of her father, in actuality, she is seeking closeness with a mother who abandoned her after she was born. Celia “held her child by one leg, handed her to Jorge, and said, ‘I will not remember her name.’” Obviously, Lourdes has no memory of this event and only learns about it when the ghost of her father tells her about it. After Celia abandons her daughter, the father, Jorge, essentially takes over his daughter’s life, a patriarchal symbol that is typical of Latino culture. He tells her, “You have always been mine,hija,”and Celia is the embodiment of an absent mother. As a result, Lourdes has no interest in becoming part of her mother’s life even when that is an option, preferring to stick with her father. Because Celia would have been unable to provide for her daughter emotionally in any way, it was fortunate for Lourdes that her father stepped up to take charge of the situation.

In Dreaming in Cuban, the central relationships on which the novel focuses are between women: three generations of complex interactions between mother, daughter, and grandmother and their connections to political ideologies of Cuba and the United States. Celia is a strong supporter of the Castro government, Pilar appears to be interested in her grandmother’s political ideology while Lourdes is undeniably a capitalist. There are inherent struggles between the characters regarding how each one will resolve the identity crisis: Lourdes hopes that her daughter will continue in the bakery business in New York, but Celia wishes her granddaughter to return to Cuba. The identity of these characters are not fixed; Lourdes begins as a conservative character but eventually demonstrates rejection of traditional feminine roles by opening up her own business as well as by becoming a police officer. Celia is a progressive in the political sense, but regarding her marriage to Jorge she assumes a very traditional role, a virtual prisoner in her home and on the island of Cuba. Pilar is conflicted about where she belongs; despite the fact that she loves her grandmother a great deal, she does not identify with living in Cuba.

Lourdes is not the only character from food plays a significant role in her portrayal. Throughout the novel, food is used for each character during periods of instability where it plays a role in helping to ground the character. For example, Celia, who would like to prevent American culture from contaminating Cuban society she works harvesting sugarcane in 1972, believing as Castro did that a main factor in maintaining power in Cuba would revolve around the sugarcane crop. Lourdes has another agenda for her involvement with sugar through the bakery: she hopes that Cubans will view her success and involvement with the sugar products to become more aware of their own poverty and the possibilities of contrast to it by her fulfillment of the American dream. To accomplish this, she sends home photos of her appetizing pastries, “each glistening éclair is a grenade aimed at Celia’s political beliefs, each strawberry shortcake proof of her success in America, and a reminder of ongoing shortages of the same in Cuba.”

Pilar’s attitudes about food and its significance contradict those of her mother and grandmother. She tries to imitate what she views as a typical American life that consists of watching parades and eating the kinds of foods and meals that she reads about in women’s magazines. Unlike her mother and grandmother who are very tied to Cuba, Pilar is more unsure about where she belongs, and is more swept up between both American and Cuban culture. She comments, during a Thanksgiving dinner, “I think migration scrambles the brain. I may move back to Cuba someday and eat nothing but codfish and chocolate.” Her paintings reflect her own hunger, not for food, but rather  for a cultural niche. She expresses her rebellion against her mother’s values when Lourdes asks her to paint a mural for the bakery when the bicentennial is occurring, and instead, she paints The Statue Of Liberty with a safety pin put through her nose, and with the phrase “I am a mess” painted at the bottom of the statue.

Pilar’s attitudes towards food are distinctly different from those of her mother and grandmother: she recognizes that the bakery goods are unhealthy, as are her mother’s eating habits in general. She strives for something different: a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet. Symbolically, this represents her detachment from Cuba and her identification with being an American, living in New York, but with roots in Cuba. She has combined her modern identity with elements of her family’s culture.

In Dreaming in Cuba, the family relationships described are frequently characterized by geographical separations, political differences and rejections/embracing of cultural identities, traditional versus modern. In the story, mothers and daughters are unable to connect, causing significant breaches in their relationships that result in long-term separations. In the story, successive generations are unable to maintain stable, ongoing relationships; mothers and their daughters are at odds, but rather grand mothers and daughters are able to form connections. In addition, husbands and wives in the story are unable to remain together: Jorge and Celia are separated during his final, sick years, Lourdes and Rufino grow more and more apart until they are completely out of contact with each other,  and Felicia attempts to murder two of her husbands.

Food plays a central role on many levels in this novel. It is interwoven with sexual hunger, it serves as a substitute and comfort for nurturing by parents and spouses, and it represents political ideologies on the part of Cubans both who remained on the island as well as who migrated to the United States. For the latter group, food was a symbol of the old identity versus the new, exemplified by Celia’s attitude towards food and sugar cane in Cuba, Lourdes’ overeating and channeling her love of sugar into successful businesses, and Pilar’s modern identity in which food was healthier and eaten in moderation. For Lourdes, food also became a powerful symbol of success and achieving the American Dream. For this complex, three generational family, food was a vital character which took on different roles for each family member.

Reference

Garcia, C. (1993). Dreaming in Cuban. New York: Ballantine Books.

Time is precious

Time is precious

don’t waste it!

Get instant essay
writing help!
Get instant essay writing help!
Plagiarism-free guarantee

Plagiarism-free
guarantee

Privacy guarantee

Privacy
guarantee

Secure checkout

Secure
checkout

Money back guarantee

Money back
guarantee

Related Essay Samples & Examples

Email and Voicemail Monitoring, Essay Example

When it comes to email and voicemail monitoring, it is important to consider the implications of these actions on behalf of both the employee as [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 340

Essay

Description of Place: A Forest, Essay Example

The logic behind the significance of specific locations to individuals inevitably varies. Some places may hold pertinence since they are the sites of important personal [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 315

Essay

Quality Management System, Essay Example

Customer needs and expectations are the products any customer attaches to a company and knows that he or she will get it when need arises. [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 337

Essay

What Does It Take To Be a Good Parent Assignment, Essay Example

The issue of what does it take to be a good parent is contentious, insofar as the thematic remains susceptible to subjective interpretations. One may [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 330

Essay

Human Rights Violations and the Legal System, Essay Example

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (hereinafter: UDHR), advanced by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947, was a watershed moment, insofar as with this [...]

Pages: 4

Words: 1122

Essay

The Critical Consulting Firm, Essay Example

Week 5 Issues The CanGo operation provides interesting insights into, unfortunately, how to conduct employee relations poorly. This is obviously not the company’s intent; on [...]

Pages: 5

Words: 1287

Essay

Email and Voicemail Monitoring, Essay Example

When it comes to email and voicemail monitoring, it is important to consider the implications of these actions on behalf of both the employee as [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 340

Essay

Description of Place: A Forest, Essay Example

The logic behind the significance of specific locations to individuals inevitably varies. Some places may hold pertinence since they are the sites of important personal [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 315

Essay

Quality Management System, Essay Example

Customer needs and expectations are the products any customer attaches to a company and knows that he or she will get it when need arises. [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 337

Essay

What Does It Take To Be a Good Parent Assignment, Essay Example

The issue of what does it take to be a good parent is contentious, insofar as the thematic remains susceptible to subjective interpretations. One may [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 330

Essay

Human Rights Violations and the Legal System, Essay Example

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (hereinafter: UDHR), advanced by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947, was a watershed moment, insofar as with this [...]

Pages: 4

Words: 1122

Essay

The Critical Consulting Firm, Essay Example

Week 5 Issues The CanGo operation provides interesting insights into, unfortunately, how to conduct employee relations poorly. This is obviously not the company’s intent; on [...]

Pages: 5

Words: 1287

Essay

Get a Free E-Book ($50 in value)

Get a Free E-Book

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!