A Place Where The Sea Remembers

  • Category: Book Reports
  • Words: 882
  • Grade: 85
An offering by Sandra Benitez, A Place Where the Sea
Remembers is a tale of love and anger, hope and tragedy,
filled with haunting characters. Its setting is the
Mexican village of Santiago, where Remedios, the healer,
listens to the peoples' stories and gives them advice.
The healer goes to the sea to tell it her stories, and
in turn, the sea tells its stories to her. "The sea
listens, and the sea retells."

At the heart of this tale is Chayo (19), the flower-seller,
and her husband, Candelario (28), the salad-maker. They
are unable to have a child, so when Chayo's younger sister
Marta (16) gets pregnant (she was raped but no one believes
her)and talks about getting an abortion,Candelario offers to
take it as their own. Marta accepts. But soon before Marta
births her child, Candelario loses his job and Chayo gets
pregnant,and refuses to take Marta's baby.

Marta is shocked and angry, and goes to Remedios to cast
a spell for Chayo to change her mind. But Remedios
refuses to do this, telling Marta she should raise the
baby herself and not venture out to El Paso. Remedios
tells her that El Paso will not bring her the good life;
only trouble. So Marta goes to the sorceror instead, and
he casts a spell on Chayo's child, so that Marta's child
will be eventually able to replace it.

Chayo eventually has her son, and he grows to be five years
old. But he turns out to be deathly allergic to things
like fire ants (this was the sorceror's spell). Chayo hates
Marta for this, and will not forgive her. But when the river
floods at the end of the book, Marta's son falls in and
is swept away by the current. Remedios waits at the shore
for the body to reveal itself, and Chayo forgives Marta.
So the tale is about justice, in that sense.

But that's only the main part of the story. Interwoven with
this primary tale is the stories of others. One of these
stories is that of Fulgencio Llanos, the photographer.
He has just gotten a photograph of the true identity of
a famous masked wrestler. He knows he will become famous
for this photo. But when he misses the bus back to Santiago,
he has to catch a ride with a white American.

The American decides to veer off to a beach on the way back.
Fulgencio gets nervous, thinking he's going to steal his
camera equipment. So when the American gets out of the
car to go check out the beach, Fulgencio tries to grab
hold of the Americans machettes in the back seat. But just
as he's doing so, the American gets back to the car and
is shocked at what he sees. He screams at Fulgencio to
get out of the car, and he peels away.

Fulgencio is heartbroken, with his equipment stolen.
But as he walks down the path, he sees that the American
had dumped his equipment out of the car before he drove off.
He wasn't a thief after all! It turns out they were
both afraid of each other, for no good reason at all.
Fulgencio would still make it big with his photo.

The next story is that of Raphael Beltran. He is a shy
school teacher who lives with his mother, taking care of
her even though she does not appreciate it. He grows into
his own man when he begins to teach his mother's young
servant Ines. He teaches her to read, even against his
mother's wishes (she views her as "just a little Indian
girl").

Then there is Esperanza Clemente, the midwife. She has been
selfless her entire life, ever since she was raped when she
was young. Since then she has felt that she did not deserve
happiness, not a "ravaged woman". She and Raphael had always
been interested in each other, and when his mother finally
moves out, they begin to go on dates. But when Esperanza
tells Raphael that she had been raped once, Raphael walks
away, in shock. But he soon apologizes, and they get married.

Next there is Cesar Burgos, the fisherman. His wife and two
sons died not long ago in a bus crash. He had but one
son left, and he would not speak to his father. Cesar
felt awful and helpless with his son. He'd take him fishing,
but still, not a word from the boy. Cesar finally broke down
and cried, thinking he's a bad father, and telling the boy
he'll give him away to his sister.

But the boy simply tells his father that he blames himself,
and that is why he could not speak. They console each
other, and they finish the memorial that the father had
constructed to remember their family by. They place it
at the site of the crash, and hug.

Finally there is Justo Flores, the birdman. He gives people
fortunes and puts on little shows for children with his bird.
But he is a lonely old man with a fake smile. He has two former
wives and grown up children whom he never talks to anymore.
They won't speak to him. The most he can do now is try
to help other people by entertaining them for a short while.

All in all, this book is one that interweaves many peoples'
stories into a single tale of hopes, triumphs, shortcomings,
and failures to form an impression of a world in which
destiny can hinge on the smallest of actions.
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