Are you or are you not a decent woman?
Basically the question that finds every single way to reask itself throughout the entire novel.
Flor's story from young is wrapped up in perception and saving face. Starting with her mother's strictness (who's story is also extremely well developed) concerning every aspect of her three children's lives, Flor is basically doomed from the start. Between her intense focus on classism and enforcement of the need for purity, it's not a wonder that Flor spends most of her time fighting against herself.
What is my bed is but a sad place to lay my body, with no other use, what does it matter?
I honestly believe Flor's attitudes are a reflection of her mother's upbringing. Time and time again, there's so much focus on female sexuality and the purity factor (to the point of blatant denial and frustration with the self for even experiencing want), themes that are vacant with the male characters. In some instances, if it's not accepted (although somewhat frowned upon), it's actually expected, to the point where the sexual orientation of men are questioned if they don't dabble outside of their promises. Double standards to the max.
In terms of writing, I'm a big fan of Jorge Amado. His delivery is well thought out, and the storyline is complete. True, it is a little long in some parts, but I sort of expected a bit of background on everyone on Flor's block. Amado introduces the culture of Bahia and the strong ties with Candomblé in a way that makes it seem no different from the presence of the Church in Catholic communities. Reading this book sparked a little bit more of an interest in traditional West African "religions", which I can't find any word for because they do not function like a religion by definition. Throughout the Caribbean and the northern parts of Latin America (including Venezuela), references to these practices are made, and it was pretty interesting to do research and note just how much the cultures in these areas are alike, unfortunately due to the primarily West African slave trade to these areas.
Exu eats anything in the way of food, but he drinks only one thing: straight rum. At the crossroads Exu waits sitting upon the night to take the most difficult road, the narrowest, the most winding, the bad road, it is generally held, for all Exu wants is to frolic, to make mischief.
Exu, the great mischief-maker, Vadinho's patron deity.
Labels: dona flor and her two husbands, fiction, jorge amado