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Eva Luna - Chapter Six Summary & Analysis

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Chapter Six Summary

Riad Halabi, a gentle man with a cleft lip, takes Eva to town of Agua Santa, high in the mountains. The man tells Eva that he is known as the Turk and she is welcome to stay. Riad tells Eva that his wife needs to be kept company when he goes on buying trips for his store, The Pearl of the Orient, which he named for his wife Zulema.

Riad has arrived in Agua Santa after traveling and selling his wares throughout the area. Arriving in Agua Santa, Riad feels at home at once, though he arrives on a dark day. The son of the school teacher Ines had just been shot after taking a mango from a tree at a neighboring home. Riad takes charge at once, taking care of the funeral arrangements and arranging retribution for the killer. After the body is buried the entire town picks mangoes and carts them to the killer's house, filling it to the brim. The sun heats the mangoes, filling the house with ruptured fruit until it burst. The killer runs, never to return, and the town smells of marmalade to this day.

Riad builds his store, and when the time is right, returns to his homeland to take a wife. The ceremonies are conducted over five days and on the fifth night Riad meets his wife, Zulema, for the first time. Despite his kindness, Riad's cleft lip disgusts Zulema. Riad is brokenhearted, but takes his wife to Agua Santa, hoping that her love will grow.

Eva meets Zulema and greets her with an Arabic phrase that Riad has taught her. This is sufficient to melt the heart of the woman. For the first time, Eva is free to come and go a she pleases, and she cherishes the freedom. Eva looks on Riad as a father and the two share wonderful times, filled with laughter. Eva takes care of Zulema, a spoiled woman, with the care of a child, as she acts like one most days. The three fall into a comfortable family life, and Eva is happy. Riad arranges for Eva to take lessons from Ines the school teacher and the young woman discovers the joy of reading and writing. Eva's stories become more elaborate and her joy at writing them is almost as strong as her joy in telling them.

Life changes for Eva when Riad's cousin Kamal arrives, sent by his father to avoid the wars of their land. Kamal's arrival signals a change in Riad, who begins to spend all of his time with the young man, though he brings Eva little gifts to make up for his lack of attention. One of these trips changes things in Agua Santa for all. Zulema lusts for Kamal and when Riad leave on a trip she sets out to seduce the younger man. He resists for as long as he can, but succumbs to Zulema's wanting. Eva witnesses the two making love, unsure of what is truly going on as the only experience she has is the tales she had heard at La Senora's apartment.

Zulema and Kamal make love all night and Kamal flees during the siesta the following day while Zulema sleeps. When she discovers Kamal is gone, Zulema is stunned and depressed, refusing to speak or move, sitting out in the rain until Eva is finally able to make her go inside. Eva changes Zulema's clothes and puts her to bed, crawling in beside her. Riad finds the two there when he returns. Eva tells Riad that Kamal is gone, but nothing else. Everyone in the town knows that Zulema is lovesick but Riad refuses to recognize it, living in denial of the betrayal of his wife and cousin.

Chapter Six Analysis

Eva's life takes a drastic and pleasant turn when she is rescued by Riad Halabi and taken to Agua Santa. For the first time in her life Eva does not feel like a servant, but a member of a family. Her duties are more those of a daughter than anything else. Even taking care of the spoiled Zulema is something to be looked forward to. Eva takes care of the woman as if she were a doll.

While with Riad and Zulema, Eva is given two gifts that she will cherish more than any other. Riad arranges for Eva to learn to read, something she has longed to do. Reading, coupled with writing, allows Eva to write her stories down. The stories that Eva tells are the one constant in her life, the one thing that she can count on as her own, as well as something that she can give to others. Having nothing of her own, Eva still tells stories as payment to those that have been kind to her. As her life progresses, her stories will have as much of an impact on things as the experiences she has.

Riad is a kind man, one who does not want to subject those around him to his birth defect. Eva looks at Riad's birth defect as a gift from God, something that makes him more special than others. Over time, Riad relaxes enough around Eva to stop covering his face around her. This is significant, though the reader will not learn how much until later.

The arrival of Kamal changes Eva's life once again when Riad's young cousin is seduced by Zulema. Eva witnesses the two making love, but cannot reconcile the stories she has heard at La Senora's to the act of sex itself. The fact that Eva has a crush on Kamal makes things even more confusing for her when the young man leaves. Eva is loyal to Riad and through him, to Zulema, and does not want to tell anyone the truth to avoid hurting the man she considers her father. Though Riad is sure to know the truth, his kindness prevents him from taking the revenge his ethnicity allows.

It appears to the reader that Eva constantly lands on her feet, despite the life that goes on around her. Taking each day as it comes, Eva triumphs over whatever life throws her way. It is clear, however, that the happy life she has in Agua Santa is not going to last much longer, through no fault of her own.

This section contains 1,058 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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