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Eva Luna - Chapter One Summary & Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 53 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Eva Luna.
This section contains 1,246 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)

Chapter One Summary

In chapter one, Eva Luna tells the story of her life, beginning with the life of her mother, Consuelo. Consuelo, born in the jungle, is discovered as an infant by missionaries and raised with little fanfare. Despite this, Consuelo grows and learns from her life in the jungle, developing a wonderful sense of life and creating her own history. At the age of twelve, Consuelo meets an older Portuguese man and the two become friends. Consuelo spends the day with El Portuguese, catching the man's chickens as they roam the jungle, then slicing their gullets and removing the golden seeds that they eat while roaming. The seed provides the man with a living, and Consuelo has a wonderful time helping her friend. Upon returning to the Mission covered in chicken blood, Consuelo is informed that it is time for her to move to the city. Unhappy, but knowing that there is nothing she can do, Consuelo leaves her beloved home and is sent to the Convent of the Little Sisters of Charity. Consuelo stays at the convent for three years, not happy but resigned. When the Mother Superior realizes that Consuelo will not benefit from life in the convent any longer, the girl is sent to live in the home of Professor Jones.

The Professor is a strange man and though Consuelo is afraid of the man and his home at first, she adjusts. Consuelo helps the professor with his tasks which include treating cancer patients with swamp mosquitoes, and embalming the dead so that they appear alive. Though many people try to obtain the professor's secret formula, Consuelo is the only person who ever learns his secret. The formula works so well that the family of a prominent lawyer pays the professor to embalm their loved one, and then seats the dead man behind his desk, pen in hand. The lawyer had been killed on orders of El Benefactor, the leader of the country. Upon the death of El Benefactor, the family finally buries the lawyer, to the dismay of Professor Jones. Realizing that his greatest work will never be seen again, the professor has a stroke, and Consuelo is left to care for the aging man.

When the gardener is bitten by a poisonous snake, Consuelo disobeys her employer and tries to save the man rather than let him die and be embalmed. Consuelo does not miss the fact that despite the man's pain and fear of death, he is clearly sexually aroused by her. Deciding for once to pursue pleasure, Consuelo makes love to the Indian who surprises those around him by growing stronger as the days pass and recovering from the snake bite. It is on the death bed of the Indian that Eva Luna is conceived. The Indian moves on, leaving Consuelo with happy memories. She continues her daily routines until labor takes hold months later and she gives birth to Eva in her room The cook arrives to help her and offers to be godmother to the baby, who Consuelo names Eva, meaning life, and Luna, as the tribe the Indian belongs to is the Luna, or Children of the Moon.

Eva grows up happily in the home of Professor Jones, following her mother and helping with chores. While working Consuelo is quiet and barely visible but at night in their shared room Eva's mother shares the stories of her youth, creating a daughter with a vivid imagination. The two rarely leave the home of Professor Jones, living happily in the world created by the mummies that inhabit the mansion with the living, and sharing the wonderful stories Consuelo creates.

Chapter One Analysis

The reader is introduced to Eva Luna, the narrator of the novel. Eva details the life of her mother and her own entrance into the world as she knows it. With rich detail, the reader learns that Consuelo, Eva's mother, was raised in a Mission after being discovered in the jungle by missionaries. The fact that the baby is a girl does not please the missionaries, and she is ignored for the most part, allowing her to grow and thrive in relative freedom.

At the age of twelve Consuelo is sent to live in a convent, where she learns the value of hard work and the ability to remain in the shadows. Though the convent is claustrophobic to the young girl that has grown up with such freedom, Consuelo does not despair, instead she draws on her inner strength until it is time to move on.

The home of Professor Jones provides Consuelo with a home as well as a place where her fertile imagination can flourish. The mummies that the professor has created with his secret embalming formula do not frighten the young girl and she grows to almost enjoy the company of the dead. The professor, though eccentric, is a good man and a fair employer. Though Consuelo works hard she does not feel oppressed in any way.

Life in the sprawling home shields the inhabitants from the civil unrest that takes place in the country around them until the professor is injured when the police respond to a student uprising. It is left to Consuelo to care for the man as he recovers. When El Benefactor, the leader of the country dies, Professor Jones suffers a stroke and Consuelo is left to care for him again. It is during this period of time that Eva is conceived on the deathbed of the gardener, an Indian who is never named. The reader only learns that he is a member of the Luna tribe.

The fact that Consuelo carries Eva to term and delivers her alone in her room speaks to the strength of the woman Consuelo has become. Orphaned and raised in the jungle, then sent to a convent, then to the home of the eccentric professor, Consuelo has simply moved along the different stages of her life, accepting what life deals her and moving on. Despite a life that could be harsh and cruel, Consuelo chooses to make the best of things and relies on herself to do so. This attitude toward life is handed down to Eva, and as the novel progresses through Eva's life, the strength of her mother is evident within the daughter.

The reader also meets Eva Luna, first through the story of her conception and birth, then as a young girl growing up in the strange home of Professor Jones. Eva is not frightened of the mummies in the home because Consuelo has invented stories about their lives, allowing Eva to picture them as kind spirits rather than anything sinister. Eva thrives under her mother's care, and grows with the same sense of discipline and calm acceptance. Eva also develops her imagination, spinning tales in her mind that will serve her in the future.

Though the novel is in its early stages, the sense of feminism is already strong. Consuelo's life is not in her control as she is moved from the jungle to the convent and then to the home of Professor Jones. However, she quickly makes her place and becomes indispensable. Though the female is considered lesser that the male in society, Consuelo assumes a role of importance in the professor's home and is the only person he trusts with his guarded secrets. Consuelo also acts as father and mother to Eva, encouraging her daughter through all steps of life.

This section contains 1,246 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Eva Luna from BookRags. (c)2017 BookRags, Inc. All rights reserved.
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