Quote 2

At birth Rosa was white and smooth, without a wrinkle, like a porcelain doll, with green hair and yellow eyes—the most beautiful creature to be born on earth since the days of original sin, as the midwife put it, making the sign of the cross.

Rosa is Clara's older sister. She is Esteban's first fiancé but dies before they can be married. This quote is a perfect example of the way magic realism works in the novel. It is not realistic for anyone to have pure white skin, green hair, and yellow eyes. However, Rosa is a very real character in the novel. Although her beauty is other-worldly, she has to deal with it in very real and realistic ways. She has to tan very carefully because her skin is so pale, and she must wash her hair with special herbs to make it a more natural color.

The midwife's reference to original sin and her making the sign of the cross emphasize that the setting for the novel is Catholic country. Within that context, if Rosa is to remain untouched by original sin, she must be a saint or must die young. Her mother realizes that Rosa is too beautiful to last and is not surprised when she dies before marrying Esteban.