Yunior interrupts the story to ask whether Abelard’s misfortune was linked to fukú or if it was just another version of a very common Dominican story: “The Girl Trujillo Wanted.”
Abelard was convicted of all charges and sentenced to eighteen years. Trujillo confiscated all of Abelard’s property, which signaled a profound downturn for the family. Yunior refers to this downturn as “the Fall,” and he lists several tragedies that came in its wake. First, soon after giving birth to a child with very dark skin, Socorro committed suicide. Two years later, Jacquelyn was found dead, having drowned in a shallow pool. Then, in 1951, Astrid was shot while praying in a church in San Juan. Abelard died in prison, fourteen years into his sentence.
Socorro and Abelard’s third daughter, Beli, passed into the care of a woman named Zoila, who nursed the baby until Socorro’s distant relatives showed up and laid claim to the child. These relatives passed Beli on to even more distant relatives, who then sold her to live as a slave in Azua. She spent her childhood in harsh and sometimes hostile conditions. The father of the family she lived with nearly killed her by dumping a pan of hot oil on her, leaving her back horrifically scarred.
It wasn’t until 1955 that La Inca, one of Abelard’s cousins, tracked Beli down and rescued her. She officially adopted her and taught her to read and write. Though defiant, Beli adjusted well and quickly rose to the top of her school class. She never talked about her experience in Azua, and La Inca didn’t ask her about it.
The events Yunior recounts in the second half of Chapter 5 suggest a symbolic link between Abelard’s political ambivalence and the tragedy that eventually befell his family. Whereas other intellectuals in the Dominican Republic resisted Trujillo’s regime in fairly direct ways, Abelard tried to ignore the political situation unfolding around him. Of course, he knew enough about the situation to know that he needed to avoid offending Trujillo. But otherwise, he preferred to wait for the regime to end on its own. Even when Abelard felt directly threatened by Trujillo, he failed to take any action. He refused Lydia’s offer to provide Jacquelyn safe haven, and in the midst of his worsening anxiety, he continued to wait and see whether Trujillo would make another move. Eventually, Abelard’s worst nightmare came true. Only then did he finally make a firm decision and openly defy Trujillo by refusing to bring Jacquelyn to his party. In a bit of tragic irony, Abelard’s defiance appeared to go unnoticed. His fatal misstep would actually come later when he believed himself safe. In the end, the reader cannot help but wonder if Abelard might have avoided his ultimate fall had he taken action sooner.
Socorro’s recurring nightmare of a man without a face recalls the faceless man that, as the reader has already learned, Beli will later see more than fifteen years later. In Chapter 3, Yunior recounted Beli’s brief sighting of a man without a face. Shortly after the Gangster abandoned her on their vacation in Samaná, she hitched a ride back to Santo Domingo. On the way they passed through a ramshackle town where Beli had a vision of a faceless man waving to her. Though she did not recognize it at the time, this vision foreshadowed the harrowing event in which two men nearly beat her to death. Yunior’s account of these events also indicated that the man without a face had a symbolic link to the fukú curse. Now, two chapters later, the faceless man returns in Socorro’s nightmares. Once again, this ominous figure bodes ill. Not long after Socorro dreamed of the faceless man hovering over her and Abelard’s bed, her husband got arrested, and the Cabral family fell apart. These events strengthen the reader’s sense that the man without a face is indeed a manifestation of the fukú curse.