The Image Of Cuban Revolution In “Goodbye Mother”

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In “Goodbye Mother” written by Reinaldo Arenas, the Cuban Revolution was taking place and it shows the fall of the Cuban government. This story consists of 6 characters: the mother, the four sisters and a brother that narrates the story. The mother who died in the story represents the country of Cuba. The four sisters named Ofelia, Odilia, Otilia and Onelia showed a caring and controlling character in the story.

In the start of the story, the death of a mother who is the symbol of Cuba, where Reinaldo Arenas was born. “Plant a kiss on mother’s disfigured face” the distinguishing of the dead mother implies the suffering that Reinaldo Arenas has experienced throughout the Cuban Revolution. Reinaldo Arenas used the mother as a character in the story because his father had left him. The sisters grieve the death of their departed mother but could not let her go. The brother who narrators the story, goes along with the sacraments that his sisters are performing, dancing around their mother’s dead body, brushing her hair, and tying her shoes when they become untied from her swelling feet (Arenas 315). When the brother stated that it’s time to bury their mother, the sisters are heated. “What’s come over you? The thought of burying your own mother….!” (Arenas 316). They are still in denial that the mother had died and cannot cope with the devastation. Taking turns, the sisters begin to sacrifice themselves to their mother. This can be seen as the mother country sacrificing themselves to show reliance in hard times. It can also be perceived as the thousands of residents who were killed during the rebellion of Cuba.

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The sisters mentioned that they owed their mother everything. Reinaldo was born in Cuba, who provided him the things he needed such as a scholarship for his writing and that of which made him famous. The person who was telling the story, unfortunately did not made it to burn the mother’s dead body. “The fragrance of the rotting bodies of Mother, Ofelia, Odilia and Otilia wafts far and wide, turning the whole area into a delectable wasteland as the horrid birds, the hideous butterflies, the fetid flowers, the pestilent herbs and shrubs, along with the loathsome trees, have vanished or shriveled up, dying or beating a hasty retreat, shamed into sub missioned.” This statement basically sums up the hardship that the Cuban people had faced during the Cuban revolution. The Cuba government examined all the people under its rule. Watching everything that they do just like when Reinaldo Arenas was imprisoned. He was always watched by an authority because he might write something that can affect their guideline in the Cuban revolution.

“Is this mother?” this question of the storyteller signified that it had something to do with the country of Cuba. It was indicated that the mother favored and fed them but that all changed when she passed away. When Reinaldo Arenas was young, he was poor, but gifted as a child. When people discovered his talent, they gave him a scholarship and made Reinaldo Arenas a famous personality in terms of writing. In 1965 Arenas was expelled from the University of Havana for “dubious morality and political ideology. His friends disappeared from their residences because of their “deviations, either sexual or ideological”, and became inmates of rehabilitation centers or UMAP labor camps. This shows that the country of Cuba turned on him after knowing that he was a homosexual.

“Here I am, here we are, steadfast and true, ready to obey your command.” This symbolizes the peoples love for Cuba. The act of suicide of the four sisters tells that when the people of Cuba continue to follow the ruling system of Cuba the people will die, without really living their own life on their own terms.

The suicide act of the storyteller when he tried to follow his mother and his four sisters, have something to do with the time when Reinaldo Arenas was jailed on his own country. In the story the protagonist claimed that he was a traitor because he did not follow the mother and the four sisters but still, he was blissful with his decision. In Reinaldo Arenas’ case he committed suicide and wrote a farewell letter. ‘My message is not a message of failure,’ he declared, ‘but rather one of struggle and hope. Cuba will be free, I already am.’ These final words reveal the self-determination, strength, and indomitable spirit of this extraordinary writer and political activist.  


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