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Carlos noticed men with guns coming toward his house.
He motioned for the maid, Chucha, to be quiet and ran into the bedroom
closet. He also signaled for Yoyo to be quiet. He hid in a secret compartment
with supplies and a gun that Vic had smuggled in for him. Yoyo thought
that her father was playing a game, like when he would ask if she
had the blood of the Conquistadors while holding her upside down
by her ankles. She thought the dark skinned men looked creepy as
they entered her house, and she noticed their guns. She thought
they must be either criminals or the secret police in plain clothes
that her mother has told her about. Yoyo was afraid because once
she told a made-up story about her father having a gun to the neighbor,
and she was beaten for it. Her mother said she almost got her father
killed. Yoyo refused to talk to the men because she thought they
must be in her house about the gun story. The men said her father
should put locks on the doors to keep his daughters safe, and Chucha
announced their mother's return home. She sprinkled powder around
the house, casting a voodoo spell.
Laura was scared when she spotted a black Volkswagen and
the secret police outside her house. She told a servant to call
Vic and tell him to come to get his tennis shoes. This was a code
for trouble with the secret police. Laura tried to intimidate the
lower class officers with snobbery, as she waited for Vic to come
and help. Vic worked for the CIA and had promised to get the Garcia
family out of the country. One man, Fernando, had already hung himself
in jail after being tortured. She stalled the men with beer and
snacks, waiting for Vic to arrive. Vic was interrupted while having
sex with a young prostitute. He went to Laura's sister's house,
where several uncles have been hiding in a bedroom. They explained
the situation to Vic as Carla and Sandra noticed that their family
members seemed strangely nervous. Carla wondered why Vic never wore
tennis shoes when he showed up to pay off the secret police. When
Vic arrived at the Garcias' house, he announced that Carlos had
received a fellowship at a hospital in the United States. At that
moment, Laura realized they would soon leave the Island.
The secret police officers, Pupo and Checo, had been assigned
to report on Dr. Garcia's comings and goings. When Vic arrived they worried
that they had given an influential family a hard time, since Vic
confirmed their connections to the Embassy. Pupo worried that his
supervisor would punish their mistake. Laura told her children to
pick out their best clothes and one toy to take on the trip to the U.S.
Sandra realized that no toy would be able to fill the emptiness opening
up inside her.
Carlos had heard the police question his wife and felt
relieved when Vic arrived. Sofia did not remember the last day they
were on the Island because she was the youngest. Her sisters would
tell her she almost got her father killed for being mean to the
police. Sandra only remembered Chucha, a Haitian maid who practiced
voodoo and slept in a coffin. Chucha prayed for the girls and made
them cry, just like her wooden statue dripping water. Chucha explained
how she had been left to watch the house by herself, since the other
servants were dismissed after the family left. She described the
decay and disrepair the house would suffer and the haunted feeling
the girls would experience in the future. Then she climbed into
her coffin to sleep.
The present tense used to narrate this chapter lends a
sense of urgency, tension, and suspense as the Garcia family struggles
to survive nearly fatal encounters with the dictatorship's henchmen.
The present tense also gives the sense that this chapter is not
merely a collection of memories, but rather an event that continues
to occur, even in the current moment. The family's last day on the
Island ties all the different characters and perspectives together
in one point of time that continues to effect all of them in various
ways throughout the rest of their lives. We can see in this chapter
the roots of all the problems the family has faced in previous chapters.
The narrative perspective shifts between each family member,
as well as the servants, the police, and Vic. The shifting perspective highlights
the fact that the family's last day on the Island had such momentous
consequences for all of the characters in the book. Each one has
separate memories and impressions of the short period of time that
tore the family from their home and extended family. The inclusion
of the perspectives of peripheral characters emphasizes that this
period of dictatorship effected not only the Garcia family, but
also the larger community and Dominican society. The perspectives
of lower class people, such as the servants and police, balances out
the novel's focus on a wealthy, upper class family. Yet both Chucha
and the police seem powerless to influence the course of events
they contribute to, and submit themselves to the authority of the
state and their bosses while simply hoping for the best.
The only first person narrative is told by Chucha and
concludes the chapter. This is an unusual perspective to tell this
moment of the plot, when the Garcia family has finally left the
Dominican Republic for good. This is the most decisive turning point
for the Garcia family, yet it is told from the point of view of
a woman who was often ignored, misunderstood, or forgotten by various
Ace your assignments with our guide to How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents!