46 pages • 1 hour readNilo Cruz
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The most significant theme of the play addresses the power of literature and language. In this play, literature is so powerful it can inspire unfaithfulness and ruin marriages, and it can drive men to murder. Literature can teach and encourage growth, but it can also frighten and lead to destruction. For example, Cheché blames his unhappiness on the lector who “read[s] the same story every day” (58), believing that the language on the page has power to lead women away from their husbands. As well, Juan Julian discusses his responsibilities as a reader, explaining that the “language of cigar smoke the Indians used to communicate to the gods,” (52) is language he can access as a lector, “a distant relative” of the Chief Indian who could translate words from gods. Marela and Conchita also admit that they are both influenced directly by the book Anna Karenina, and the playwright incorporates passages directly from the book that impact individuals in the play and change their lives forever, both positively and negatively. Literature and language are a force that demands respect, a source of education, self-esteem and identity, the inspiration behind love and dreams, and the reason women have cause to think above their station and to feel passion and to act on their feelings.