Monday, November 9, 2009

Song does more than provide a strong sense of place in "Caramba;" It also puts words to the emotions that each woman is feeling in the story. On page 49, the reader is provided with the back story to April May and her long reign as Miss Magma. Although most people have the perception that beauty queens are beautiful creatures, April May is described as ugly with her freckles, large teeth, pimple-ridden skin and her large feet. For her performance, she roller skates to "Red Hot," which, to me is a tribute to her hair. The song lyrics say,"
My gal is red hot
(Your gal ain't doodly-squat)
Yeah, my gal is red hot
(Your gal ain't doodly-squat)
Well, she ain't got no money
But man, she's a-really got a lot.

In the context, "money," could symbolize good looks, but "she's a-really got a lot" symbolizes the power of her hair, which the author says made her so hot when she said, "She had the brightest, reddest hair in all of Lava County....there was something about all that red hair spilling out of the crater and onto the side of the volcano float." When the song says "Well, she walks all night, talks all day
She's the kinda woman who'll have her way," this could illustrate her determination to stay queen and her way of getting what she wants. The author mentions that "April May was always last to exhibit her talent" during the competition. Her determination is also seen when her hair refuses to abdicate the crown.

Lucha tells Favy,"life gives out very few good opportunities, so when one comes along, a girl's got to make the best of it." Lucha and Favy were on their way to a drug deal, but, when the opportunity presented itself for Favy to find her voice, they pounced on it. The author says that Fabiola, "takes a big, deep breath, as if trying to make up for more than just lost time." Throughout the work, Fabiola seems to be trapped in the time that the "susto" was done to her. By singing, her voice draws in power and transports her out of that time and into the present. No longer is she, as the song calls it, a

"A little dove upon flying
Bearing a wounded breast."

Through her singing, she moves from darkness into light and, seemingly, away from the ocean of despair that she seems to be drowning in, as in "Cigarra" when it makes reference to there being,"another color blacker
Than the color of my sorrows."

April May and Fabiola give sense of place because they are also representations of a volcano about to errupt. When the author writes, "At first, she sings slowly and softly, all the while gathering momentum and volume," it's as if she's describing the moments before a volcano blows and, when she says,"Fabiola sings slowly, and surely, but moreover inevitably, so that by the second verse her voice is as loud and sure of itself," this is representative of the flow of magma boiling over and conquering everything in its path. After Favy destroys the crown, the people expect April May to ride in and save the day, but she chooses to finish her performance. When she falls, her hair described as "long fiery hair has never been longer, has never been thicker, has never been fierier," alludes to the magma that will cover the town. When she screams a scream that is "full of everything that screams are made of," she becomes the voice of the volcano that, like her, has been complacent and and,in essence, her rage and fury at being supplanted become the impetus that causes the volcano to blow.

1 comment:

  1. An excellent reading, Demetrius, as usual. You do a fabulous job in this close reading of drawing out the parallels between the songs and Martinez's characterizations of April May and Favy. In particular, I love your interpretation of Favy's singing as carrying her into the present. Personally, I've always wondered about the choice of the song, "La Cigarra" for Favy, since it's about a cicada who'll die when the song is done. Does that mean that the asustada Favy will die to be "reborn" and "revoiced" anew?