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

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials

Assessment

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

Key Knowledge

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.

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 Fishtank ELA Connections

Future Fishtank ELA Connections

Lesson Map

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

Discuss and debate the fate of Hugo Villaverde. 

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Assessment

Common Core Standards

Core Standards

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RI.11-12.1

RI.11-12.3

RI.11-12.6

RL.11-12.1

RL.11-12.2

RL.11-12.6

SL.11-12.1

SL.11-12.2

W.11-12.1

W.11-12.4