I thought of writing a review for this short story that we discussed last weekend, but I was honestly a tad lazy to do it just yet. However, I was digging through some college files for some notes to do some work, and I found my work sheet from my English Literature class about Paz Marquez Benitez’s short story. I thought I’d just post that one here, because it’s sort of a review of the story from when I first read (and liked) it. :) Oh, please note that I wrote these answers about 7 years ago, so these thoughts come from a 19-year-old Tina. :D
Oh, and if you’ve never read the story, you can read it online here.
Dead Stars by Paz Marquez Benitez
Discuss briefly one internal and one external factor or force that might have contributed to Alfredo’s decision to marry Esperanza despite the apparent mutual attraction between him and Julia. (Spoiler warning!)
Alfredo is supposed to marry Esperanza, but then he meets Julia and falls for her, so he starts to question if Esperanza was actually right for her. But in the end, he ended up marrying Esperanza. One factor that might have influenced this decision is because everyone around him knows about the upcoming marriage. Esperanza’s parents know it, his parents know it, and they have already set a date (or at least, a month) for them to be married. I’m pretty sure invitations are then being made, as well as the program and such. So if he decides to cancel the wedding, it would be a big outrage to everyone, especially to Esperanza’s party. Another factor, which comes from him, is that because even if there is a mutual attraction between him and Julia, he still feels the responsibility of his set wedding to Esperanza. Even if there was apparent mutual attraction between him and Julia, he knew he had this promise to marry the other girl, and being a man, he couldn’t back out from it.
Choose one passage in the story that you particularly like and explain why you like it.
So all these years—since when?—he had been seeing the light of dead stars, long extinguished, yet seemingly still in their appointed places in the heavens. (par. 223)
I like this passage because it sounds so sad, yet it is full of meaning. Besides the fact that the title of the short story appears in this passage, which I think is really lovely (the title), I think I can relate to this somehow. I think this passage talks about someone seeing something that is long gone, but knowing that it was there – gone, but was there before. It’s when you end up expecting something from someone for a long time. When you finally get to talk to the person about it, it turns out that what you have been expecting before is gone, and yet you can still see that they were there before.
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In a nutshell: I liked the story then, and I still like the story now. While the language may be a bit deep and possibly dated, I thought it had just the right amount of angst and bitterness of a “love” that is lost. It’s the kind of story that makes me sigh, shake my fist at Alfredo, and wish that things could be different, even if I’m not sure who needs that different ending the most. True, the characters could have been fleshed out more, but I think the story gives us just enough of the overall conflict that it left me melancholic and wistful at the end.