Contemporary Latin American Fiction

Caroline’s Wedding (166-188)

Close Reading Discussion Part I


.Read together with two partners one of the following sections of “Caroline’s Wedding.”

.Each group will present their analysis to the class. They should include the following information in their presentation:

-The literal meaning of the quote

-The figurative meaning of the quote

-The thematic significance of the quote

.Reflect on how these quotes connect to the novel’s larger themes and messages.

Caroline’s shower (166-168)

Ma acted like a waitress and served everyone as Caroline took center stage sitting on the loveseat that we designated the “shower chair.” She was wearing one of her minidresses, a navy blue with a wide butterfly collar. We laid the presents in front of her to open, after she had guessed what was inside. (167)

Packing Gifts (168-171)

“Maybe she jumps at it because she thinks he is being noble. Maybe she thinks he is doing her a favor. Maybe she thinks he is the only man who will ever come along to marry her. ”

“Maybe he loves her,” I said.

“Love cannot make horses fly,” she said. “Caroline should not marry a man if that man wants to be noble by marrying Caroline.”

“We don’t know that, Ma.”

“The heart is like a stone,” she said. “We never know what it is in the middle.

“Only some hearts are like that,” I said.

“That is where we make mistakes,” she said. “All hearts are stone until we melt, and then they turn back to stone again,”

Did you feel that way when Papa married that woman?” I asked.

My heart has a store of painful marks,” she said, “and that is one of them.” (170)

The Eve (171-174)

Caroline went to our room and came back wearing her wedding dress and a prosthetic arm.

Ma’s eyes wandered between the bare knees poking beneath the dress and the device attached to Caroline’s forearm.

“I went out today and got myself a wedding present,” Car­oline said. It was a robotic arm with two shoulder straps that controlled the motion of the plastic fingers. (173)

The Wedding Day (174-179)

Ma’s eyes were fierce with purpose as she tried to stir Car­oline out of her stupor.

“At last a sign,” she joked. “She is my daughter after all. This is just the way I was on the day of my wedding.”

Caroline groaned as Ma ran the leaves over her skin. (175)


Caroline’s face, as I had known it, slowly began to fade, piece by piece, before my eyes. Another woman was setting in, a married woman, someone who was no longer my little sister.

“I, Caroline Azile, take this man to be my lawful wedded husband.”

I couldn’t help but feel as though she was divorcing us, trading in her old allegiances for a new one. (179)



Close Reading Discussion Part II

Chain Reaction Analysis

General Instructions:

Analyze the quote in detail. What does it reveal about the text’s characters, themes, or plot? What is the tone or mood of the quote?

The Toast

“Say something for your sister,” Ma said in my ear.

I stood up and held my glass in her direction.

“A few years ago, our parents made this journey,” I said.

“This is a stop on the journey where my sister leaves us. We will miss her greatly, but she will never be gone from us.”

It was something that Ma might have said. (181)

The Roses

“Who are they from.?” I asked.

“Caroline,” she said. “Sweet, sweet Caroline.”

Distance had already made my sister Saint Sweet Caroline. “Are you convinced of Caroline’s happiness now.?” I asked.

“You ask such difficult questions.”

That night she went to bed with a few Polaroids of the wedding photos and the roses by her bed. Later, I saw her walking past her room cradling the vase. She woke up several times to sniff the roses and change the water. (182)

The Dream

Then he asked me, “If we were painters, which landscapes would we paint?”

I said, “I don’t understand.”

He said, “We are playing a game, you must answer me.”

I said, “I don’t know the answers.”

“When you become mothers, how will you name your sons?”

“We’ll name them all after you,” I said.

“You have forgotten how to play this game,” he said. “What kind of lullabies do we sing to our children at night?

“Where do you bury your dead?”

His face was fading into a dreamy glow.

“What kind of legends will your daughters be told? What kinds of charms will you give them to ward off evil?” (183)

The Passport

My passport came in the mail the next day, addressed to Gracina Azile, my real and permanent name.

I filled out all the necessary sections, my name and address, and listed my mother to be contacted in case I was in an accident. For the first time in my life, I felt truly secure living in America. It was like being in a war zone and finally receiving a weapon of my own, like standing on the firing line and finally getting a bulletproof vest.

We had all paid dearly for this piece of paper, this final assurance that I belonged in the club. It had cost my parents’ marriage, my mother’s spirit, my sister’s arm.

I felt like an indentured servant who had finally been allowed to join the family. (185-6)


The kitchen radio was playing an old classic on one of the Haitian stations.

Beloved Haiti, there is no place like you.
I had to leave you before I could understand you. (185)

“Why is it that when you lose something, it is always in the last place that you look for it?” she asked finally.

Because of course, once you remember, you always stop looking. (188)