The novel Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia is about three Cuban women from one large family who are generations apart. The storyline has particularly placed focus on Celia and her daughters, Felicia, Lourdes, and her daughter Pilar. In this novel, each woman has their issues and their way of dealing with them. However, they have a thing in common: memory and the past is a big part of their identities. Christina Garcia uses numerous techniques to develop the story and the main idea behind it. She uses epistolary and flashback and flashforward techniques to develop the theme of memory and the past. Memory and the past plays a huge part in the main characters’ life that they can’t erase.
The author used the flashback and flashforward technique to show how memory and the past had played a role in the characters’ life. Celia remembers ‘Jorge’s mother and sister playing dominoes in the dining room until late, delaying her sleep, her only solace’ (p. 41) while her husband, Jorge, was on business trips. Celia has experienced these kinds of violence from Jorge’s family. The way Jorge’s family treated her in her early years of marriage, trying to erase remembrance in her mind, has left a mark in her. Even when Celia ‘took Ofelia (Jorge’s sister) aside and told her in confidence’ (p. 42) that she was pregnant, her misery increased. She even decided to leave everything and travel to Spain if she had a boy. She would then forget everything and live her life in hopes of finding her old lover. However, the letters she writes to her ex, Gustavo, show that she did not forget anything and still remembers it.
Another technique that Cristina Garcia used to develop the theme memory and the past is by epistolary. Celia writes Gustavo letters every month that she never sent, telling him everything like ‘if it’s a boy, she would leave Jorge, and sail to Spain, to Granada, to his kiss.’ (p.50) These letters, I believe, demonstrate that the memories are important to Celia since she kept them without sending them to Gustavo. The letters became more like journals that she puts in everything that happened each month, what happened in the past. But when her granddaughter was born, she wrote her last letter stating, ‘I will no longer write to you, mi amor. she will remember everything.’ She stopped writing the letter after confirming that her granddaughter will carry on the family’s memory. And this is how Celia showed how important memory is to her.