The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love Short Essay - Answer Key

Oscar Hijuelos
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Short Essay Questions Key

1. About what is "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love?"

It is a story of Cesar and Nestor Castillo, two brothers who come to America from Cuba in 1949 in their quest for a better life and the chance to play their mambo music.

2. Why does Cesar want to drink himself to death?

He is tired of living with the body of an old man whose machismo is long gone.

3. Describe The Castillo brothers' arrival in New York City in 1949.

They are completely unprepared for the harsh realities of life in New York City, beginning with the snow that greeted them and soaked through their thin overcoats. They live in an apartment with their cousin, Pablo, and his family, work in a meat packing plant by day, and play their music in clubs at night.

4. Who is Maria?

She is the woman Nestor has loved and lost. He meets her in Havana, and they fall passionately in love. When she seems to be avoiding his proposals of marriage, Nestor asks his brother for advice. Cesar tells Nestor to show her who is in charge. Maria cannot stand the abuse, so she leaves him and marries the man who was abusing her when she and Nestor first meet. Nestor regrets what he has done to her for the rest of his life, and writes a song that is frequently rewritten in memory of her.

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