Dreaming in Cuban

Christina Garcia's novel Dreaming in Cuban will offer students a vivid picture of distant and present-day Cuba, as they contemplate how our past, good or bad, makes us into who we are today.

Unit Summary

Christina Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban is written in beautiful prose, packed with vivid imagery of Cuba. Garcia uniquely lays out her story through the lens of several characters, all members of the del Pino family. Narration shifts from third person limited to first person as we follow the different members of the family through different decades. Garcia’s narration style allows for the readers to discover the complicated nature of memory and transnationalism. Her use of imagery and figurative language helps to bring memories of distant and present-day Cuba to life. Garcia also seamlessly weaves in historical events as they impact characters, giving students a chance to learn about key events in Cuban and American history. In the end, this novel will leave students curious about Cuba, debating what we do for family and for those we love, and contemplating how our past, good or bad, creates who we are today. 

Texts and Materials

Core Materials

Supporting Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

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Assessment

This assessment accompanies Unit 5 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • Love: How is love passed from generation to generation?  What do we do for those we love?
  • Betrayal: On some level, is betrayal of those we love inevitable?  Can we forgive after betrayal?
  • Religion and Truth: What is the difference between what we believe to be true and what is actually true?  Who holds the truth? 
  • Memory and the Past: How important is our memory in determining ourselves?  Is it possible to escape our pasts? 

Writing Focus Areas

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Students will write essays that draw upon multiple sources of fiction and nonfiction texts and materials.

Spiraling Literary Analysis Writing Focus Area

  • Students will write a clear and creative thesis that introduces their unique argument.
  • Students will select relevant evidence from multiple sources to support their thesis statements.
  • Students will weave partial quotations, rather than lengthy quotes from documents, into their arguments in order to support the thesis.

Vocabulary

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Literary Terms

epistolary, juxtaposition, imagery, flashback, anecdote, first/third person narration, limited narration

Roots and Affixes

som-, patri-, matri-, sol-, poli, dis, ex, trans

Text-based

Section 1: Ordinary Seductions (pp. 3–101)
adversaries (3), scrutinize (3), feted (3), conjecture (4), octave (4), prescience (5), disquieting (5), ardor (5), buoyant (6), allegiance (6), covenant (6), nomad (7), lexicon (7), scouring (7), cicatrix (8), anarchy (9), lament (9), languid (11), intricate (11), sturdily (11), singed (12), benevolent (12), indignation (13), oblations (13), patron (14), dystopia (14), infelicities (14), implicit (17), unadorned (17), distorted (18), alluvial (18), elfin (19), canonize (19), sanctuary (19), enigma (19), malnourished (20), gait (24), somnambulist (21), vigorously (21), agility (21), exertions (21), obscure (21), fastidious (21), squalor (22), vigilance (22), incompetence (22), defiance (23), superimposed (24), doleful (25), subversive (26), abstract (29), unobtrusive (20), apiculture (30), cobalt (33), patriotism (36), solace (36), monocles (36), pallid (37), serrated (38), flamboyant (38), coaxes (39), melodramatic (39), pendulous (40), solace (41), indecency (42), appropriating (42), prosperity (45), obscenities (47), sire (v) (47), atrocity (48), porous (50), disarmingly (52), insomniac (52), debilitating (58), martyr (58), dilute (59), emissary (61), blustery (62), presentiment (65), abhor (65), ambiguity (65), scrutiny (67), fervently (69), illegible (72), fratricide (73), delusions (75), luminosity (75), paraphernalia (76), ecclesiastical (76), loping (78), withered (79), edifice (80), ornate (80), grotesque (81), simultaneously (81), oblivion (82), venereal (84), disdainfully (84), gaunt (84), exuberant (85), indifference (86), bristle (86), taut (86), animated (87), despondent (90), somnolence (90), clandestine (91), eclipsing (92), dispersed (92), naïve (94), primitive (95), alluring (95), dissonant (95), tyranny (98), arbitrary (n) (99), cuckold (99)
Section 2: Imagining Winter (pp. 105–209) belligerent (108), intricate (108), dismantle (108), genial (108), contemptuously (109), fissures (109), hypocrisies (109), florid (109), unfathomable (110), vehemently (111), civilian (111), prosperity (112), modus operandi (112), ungual (113), contradictory (114), discord (114), apolitical (114), forlorn (115), pandemonium (115), polemic (115), dispirited (116), haphazard (117), malcontent (118), sporadically (118), vulnerable (119), miniscule (119), pension (124), meager (124), eloquent (124), pampered (124), maladjusted (125), abstract (127), loiterer (128), ridicule (128), bigoted (128), denounce (128), hypocrite (128), equidistant (129), opulence (130), cloying (130), nostalgia (130), formidable (130), resolute (130), bric-a-brac (130), austere (130), quail (130), aviary (130), nefarious (135), asceticism (135), girandoles (136), imperious (137), exotic (137), effigy (137), commission (138), anomaly (139), irradiated (141), addles (146), vile (146), indiscretions (147), unequivocally (147), synthetic (149), clamorous (149), sparsely (149), scrupulous (149), pallid (150), mottled (150), voracious (150), coaxes (150), ursine (153), arbitrary (154), delirium (156), incubating (157), anguish (157), smug (157), reorient (158), opaque (159), resentment (159), unyielding (162), destitute (162), idealistic (163), frivolous (164), virtue (168), repugnance (168), conjugal (168), disdainful (168), profound (169), proprietor (170), legacy (171), fracas (171), metamorphosis (172), degenerate (173), feverishly (173), devour (173), calamity (174), atheist (175), derision (175), imperceptible (175), sloughing (175), artifice (175), premeditated (176), deception (176), mangled (176), distorting (176), embellishments (176), fomenting (177), scathing (177), exiles (177), cohorts (177), matrix (178), recombinant (178), infatuated (178), dignified (184), fulfillment (186), vocation (186), void (187), coronation (188), crestfallen (188), radiant (189), exorcism (190), remnants (194), reverberate (195), desolate (196), constituent (196), grotesque (197), bulbous (197), ambiguous (198), raucous (198), commiserate (198), co-opted (198), mainstreamed (198), rupture (200), traversed (202), furtively (202), modest (205), incessantly (205), endearing (206), vain (206), sullen (207), envious (207), oafish (207), pontifications (207), insufferable (208), brothel (209)
Section 3: The Languages Lost (pp. 213–end)
obscenity (213), catacombs (213), mortuary (214), obese (220), immolation (220), flukes (220), tyrant (223), deprivation (223), odious (223), beholden (224), lilting (224), intuited (224), fluidity (224), enticing (225), panoramic (225), humble (226), fraternized (226), philandering (226), unerring (227), subdued (228), monosyllable (229), critical mass (231), onslaught (231), parody (233), progressive (233), lambastes (233), diatribes (233), berates (234), currency (234), apoplectic (234), luxury (235), dissent (235), defectors (237), recedes (237), lurk (237), exodus (238), disillusions (240)

Idioms and Cultural References

Section 1:
nuclear position (3), campanero (4), mantilla (4), Panama hat (5), El Lidor (6), santera (7), Havana (9), Soviets (10), Holy Ascension (12), La Madrina (12), Por Dios (13), hija (13), Cyclops (17), Jimi Hendrix (23), brassiere (25), Bay of Pigs (25), Communist (26), Leftist (26), smallpox (28), beatnik (29), novella (32), Debussy (35), micro brigade (44), crucifix (59), purgatory (60), Moscow (61), caballero (62), transistor radio (68), Cuban Missile Crisis (81), dictatorship (97)
Section 2:
Sierra Maestra (105), Lieutenant (105), guerrillas (106), makeshift camp (106), New Socialist Women (107), Vietnam (107), companeros (116), exoneration (116), Che Guevara (132), Navarro (133), the Village (134), Lou Reed (134), Hedonism (135), Iggy Pop (135), Ramones (135), Cyrillic (145), Yoruba (147), orishas (147), santero (147), micro brigade (159), Changó (163), Kennedys (171), Joe McCarthy (171), Bay of Pigs (171), National Palace (177), Flaubert (178), Emily Dickinson (178), Gauguin (178), D.H. Lawrence (178), Hemingway (178), Third World (179), Gandhi (202), the Mafia (207)

Section 3: 
Batista (220), “Granma” (220), Cadillac (221), plantados (233), political prisoner (233), the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (234), embassy (236), Peruvian Embassy of Cuba (236), political refugee (239)

Content Knowledge and Connections

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Students will gain background knowledge about Cuban history and culture during the regime of Fidel Castro.

Previous Connections

Future Connections

Intellectual Prep

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  1. Read and annotate the novel, considering the thematic questions as you read.
  2. Read the paired passages.
  3. Complete the unit test, including writing your mastery response to the essay question.

Lesson Map

1

  • “Cold War Rivals: Cuba and the United States”

Explain the relationship between Cuba and the United States and the contributing factors to the rivalry between the two countries.

Become familiar with key terms and phrases from the unit. 

2

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 3 – 9 — "Ordinary Seductions: Ocean Blue"

Explain Celia’s role in the family and her opinion of the United States.

Describe the importance of the setting.

3

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 9 – 15 — "Felicia del Pino"

Continue to develop the del Pina family tree.

Characterize Felicia based on her reaction to her father’s death.

4

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 17 – 25 — "Going South"

Characterize Lourdes based on today’s reading.

Explain how the author reveals theme through the descriptions of both the United States and Cuba in the opening chapters.

5

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 25 – 34 — "Pilar Puente"

  • “The Rise and Fall of Karl Marx”

Explain how Garcia uses tone to characterize Pilar.

Contrast views on Communism.

6

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 35 – 43 — "The House on Palmas Street"

Analyze and explain the symbolism of Celia’s pearl drop earrings. 

7

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 44 – 48

Explain the symbolism of the sugar cane.

Describe Hugo and Felicia’s relationship.

8

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 49 – 55 — "Celia's Letters: 1935-1940"

Define “epistolary” and explain the author’s purpose for including Celia’s letters.

Identify tone in Celia’s letters.

9

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 57 – 64 — "A Grove of Lemons"

Describe the relationship between Lourdes and Pilar.

10

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 64 – 74 — "Lourdes"

Analyze and explain how Lourdes’s tragic past may have shaped her current views on Cuba, the United States, and immigration. 

11

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 75 – 83 — "The Fire Between Them"

Explain the events that have shaped Felicia’s character thus far. 

Analyze and explain how the author uses tone to create suspense. 

12

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 83 – 89 — "Ivanito Villaverde"

Describe the relationship between Ivanito and his mother, Felicia. 

13

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 89 – 95 — "Celia"

Discuss the impact men have had on the del Pino women so far in this novel. 

14

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 97 – 101 — "Celia's Letters: 1942-1949"

Explain how Garcia reveals Celia’s past through her letters. 

15

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 105 – 111 — "The Meaning of Shells (1974)"

  • “Fidel Castro, Cuban Revolutionary Who Defied U.S., Dies at 90”

Explain how the Cuban revolution impacts the relationship of Felicia and Celia. 

16

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 111 – 119 — "1975"

Trace the development of Celia’s internal conflict and how she attempts to solve it. 

17

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 119 – 126 — "Lus Villaverde"

Discuss and debate the fate of Hugo Villaverde. 

18

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 127 – 133 — "Enough Attitude (1975)"

Contrast how Garcia describes New York and Cuba and explain what theme is revealed. 

Explain the symbolism of Pilar’s gift to Lourdes.

19

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 134 – 144 — "Pilar (1976)"

Analyze the relationship between Lourdes and Pilar. 

20

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 145 – 155 — "Baskets of Water, Ivanito"

Explain how Garcia uses symbolism to convey theme.

Identify and interpret irony in Felicia’s story. 

21

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 155 – 160 — "1978"

Analyze and explain the relationship between Celia and Javier. 

22

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 161 – 165 — "Celia's Letters: 1950-1955"

Analyze the impact of the author’s choice in chronology.

23

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 167 – 175 — "A Matrix of Light"

Explain how the author develops Lourdes’s character.

24

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 175 – 181 — "Pilar (1978)"

Analyze and explain how Garcia further develops Pilar’s character.

25

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 183 – 191 — "God's Will, Herminia Delgado"

Explain the factors that led to Felicia’s death.

Analyze the symbolism of the seashells.

26

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 193 – 203 — "Daughters of Chango (1979)"

Analyze and interpret Garcia’s use of flashback.

27

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 205 – 209 — "Celia's Letters"

Explain how Garcia further develops character through Celia’s letters and Jorge’s visits.

28

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 213 – 222 — "The Languages Lost: Six Days in April"

Analyze Garcia’s use of juxtaposition. 

29

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 222 – 232 — "Lourdes"

Explain how Garcia reveals the impact that Cuba has on Lourdes.

Analyze how Garcia uses juxtaposition to reveal theme. 

30

  • Dreaming in Cuban pg. 232 – 244 — "Castro Announces Mariel Boatlift"

Students will be able to explain the title of the final section using evidence from the final scenes. 

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Assessment

Common Core Standards

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.11-12.1 — Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

  • RI.11-12.3 — Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.

  • RI.11-12.6 — Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text.

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.11-12.1 — Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

  • RL.11-12.2 — Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • RL.11-12.6 — Analyze a case in which grasping point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.11-12.1 — Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11—12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

  • SL.11-12.2 — Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.

Writing Standards
  • W.11-12.1 — Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

  • W.11-12.4 — Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.