Bolero by Milo Manara

By Milo Manara

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Just as Juan’s devotion to his work with men in the courts and the countryside is the mark of an American hero, so the attraction between women also links to their American qualities. When Pedro reveals, “it is not an ideal head, but that of a girl who will graduate from high school next week, and they say she is incredibly beautiful: it is the head of Leonor del Valle,” the narrative structure of Sol’s first mention is repeated: “Lucía rose to her feet with a movement that was more like a jump; and Juan gathered from the floor, to return it to her, the handkerchief, torn” (136).

The most obvious analysis of the little that can be heard from outside the room is that Lucía unburdens her troubles to Ana, sobbing loudly in the process. However, the qualification, “as,” of the description of the sounds suggests that there may be a difference between what was heard and what actually happened. ” The long night together in the bedroom, the moans and sobs lend a sexual undertone to whatever that secret communication may have been. Ana’s knowledge of the details of Lucía’s troubles, and their continued love despite, or perhaps even because of, whatever else may be going on set the scene for their final encounter.

The shift in the referents for the first term in the national romance— the nation might no longer rest on the opposition between an independent Puerto Rico and a colonizing power (be it Spain or the US) adds to the already shifty ground of the second—romance might not rest on the opposition between male and female—destabilizes the rigid opposition between hetero and homo that undergirds traditional understandings of both the nation and the romance. It is not that in Eccentric Neighborhoods/Vecindarios excéntricos Puerto Rican specificity is relinquished in favor of American sameness nor that opposite-sex relations are jettisoned in favor of love between women—in fact both of those possibilities loom as just as undesirable and unsustainable as the dream of Puerto Rican independence or the rule of the patriarchal, heteronormative family.

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