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The four Garcia daughters traditionally gathered every
year for their father's birthday. They came alone, leaving behind
husbands, boyfriends, and work. Their father Carlos would greet
them, they would eat cake, and then he would give them envelopes
filled with hundreds of dollars in small bills. The daughters always
wondered why he does not simply write checks instead. For her father's
seventieth birthday, however, Sofia wanted to break the tradition
and have the party at her house, including the husbands and children. Sofia
and her father were finally speaking to each other again, after she
had run away to get married. Her second child had just been born,
and was named Carlos, after her father. He treated his namesake
better than his granddaughter because he was a boy. His macho attitude
When she was younger, she was the sister with "non-stop
boyfriends." Because her father had forbidden her to spend the night with
her boyfriend, she had to go on vacation to enjoy any intimacy. She
went on vacation to Colombia with a boyfriend, but after having
sex, broke up with him. While in Colombia, she fell in love with Otto,
a German tourist. After she returned home, her father snooped in
her drawers and found sexually graphic letters from the German man.
They had a terrible argument in which her father accused Sofia of
trying to ruin his good name and reputation by sleeping around.
Sofia became so angry and hurt during this fight that she ran away
from home. She went to Germany to get the man to marry her, which
he did. She sent her family postcards from their honeymoon, and
invited them to visit her and her husband in their new home in Michigan.
When their first child was born, Sofia's mother Laura did visit,
but her father swore he would never set foot in her house. Because
she wanted to make up with her father, Sofia brought the baby to
see him for a birthday visit. Sofia and her father gradually forgave
each other, but she hoped the birthday party would be their big
At the party, Carlos was pleased with his gifts and the
band, but as the evening progressed he became more withdrawn and depressed
that he was so old. The other guests continued drinking, eating,
and playing raucous party games. They decided to play a party game
that would amuse him. He was blindfolded and one of the women gave
him a kiss on the cheek. He was supposed to guess which one it was.
He began by guessing his wife and then his three oldest daughters.
He never guessed Sofia's name and she felt hurt. She also felt that
he did not appreciate the work she put into organizing his party.
After most of the other female guests had given their pecks on the
cheek, Sofia wanted him to know without a doubt that she was the
one kissing him. She gave him a big wet kiss in his ear, using her
tongue and biting his ear lobe. This angered and humiliated him.
He tore off the blindfold and declared that the game was over.
Sofia's ongoing conflict with her father represents a
struggle for control of her sexuality. Their arguments also illustrate
the cultural differences between the United States and the Dominican
Republic. In traditional Dominican culture, a man's honor is determined
in part by his ability to protect and guard the chastity of his
female relatives. In contemporary American culture, however, a woman expects
to be able to control her own sexuality once she has reached adulthood.
The conflict between Sofia and her father grows out of the gap between
these two cultural perspectives. Sofia feels that it is her right
to explore her sexuality however she pleases while also enjoying
the privacy and independence of adulthood. Her father, on the other
hand, feels that the presence of loose women in his house disrespects
his parental and male authority. His definition of loose turns on
Sofia's status as a single woman, since Catholic ideology does not
condone a woman having sex before marriage.
Sofia's flight from her father's house represents her
desire to assert her own independent authority as a woman and as
an adult. It is key to note, however, that she does not pursue an
independent lifestyle, but goes straight to Germany to search for
Otto. She trades her father's protection and authority for that
of a husband. This act is meant to highlight her father's impotence
to exert future influence over her sexuality.
The kiss is significant because Sofia reveals to her father
in a very physical way the extent and nature of her sensuality.
She also publicly humiliates him as she flaunts her sexuality in
front of their guests. Because sexual contact between a father and
daughter is considered incest, she also flirts with breaking this
taboo when she arouses his desires with the kiss. Even though she
is a married woman with two children, she still feels compelled
to draw attention to his inability to control her sexual behavior.
Despite their mutual efforts to leave behind their turbulent past,
Sofia cannot forgive her father for his insulting and overbearing
attitudes, and her father cannot tolerate her overt expression of
her sexuality as a mature woman.
Ace your assignments with our guide to How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents!