The Woman Who Had Two Navels Summary & Study Guide

Joaquin, Nick
This Study Guide consists of approximately 66 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Woman Who Had Two Navels.
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The Woman Who Had Two Navels Summary & Study Guide Description

The Woman Who Had Two Navels Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Woman Who Had Two Navels by Joaquin, Nick.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Joaquin, Nick. The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic. Penguin Books, 2017. Paperback.

The collection of stories begins with "Three Generations," which explores the relationship between three generations of men in the Monzon family. The presence of Catholicism is just as palpable as the forces of patriarchy, which dictate a certain brand of masculinity and family dynamics that have plagued the Monzon family, but which are able to be healed with each successive generation.

"The Legend of the Dying Wanton" presents two seemingly opposite characters, the devout Doña Ana who tends to the altar of Virgin Mary, and a notoriously wicked young soldier stationed in Manila. The two find common ground, however, when the solider, Currito, comes to Doña Ana's church to pray. When Currito finds himself shipped off the a new battlefield and mortally wounded, he ponders his true nature and comes to understand the power of forgiveness in the Christian faith, while Doña Ana, while pious herself, remains ignorant to Currito's experiences.

"The Mass of St. Sylvestre" shares a traditional story of St. Sylvestre's feast and first mass of the New Year. The divine event is not open to mortals, but anyone who is able to attend will celebrate the next one thousand new years. Mateo the Maestro, a local magus obsessed with mortality, connives a way to find out if this legend is true, and ultimately pays the price.

"The Summer Solstice" depicts two Filipino festivals and rituals--the St. John's day parade and the Tadtarin rituals. The former represents masculine pride and the glory of summer, whereas the latter is feminine, sensual fertility ritual that is deeply misunderstood, mocked, or even considered appalling or dangerous by those who do not participate. When Doña Lupeng decides she will attend the Tadtarin ritual herself, she taps in to a visceral, ancient connection to her womanhood that grants her new strength even against her husband, though it is unclear what exactly that strength can accomplish under patriarchy.

"May Day Eve" retells a fable told to young children about looking into a mirror and asking who they will marry, which will either reflect their future spouse's face or that of a devil or witch. Young Agueda decides to find out if the fable is true for herself, when Badoy catches her in the act. Agueda tries to flee and bites Badoy to escape his advances, but it is revealed that the incantation cursed them to a harrowing, though occasionally passionate, marriage.

The eponymous "The Woman Who Had Two Navels" unravels a delusion or deceit spun by a young woman named Connie, who claims she has two navels. It is revealed through a former lover named Paco, whom she shares with her mother, that the two women are part of a toxic, tumultuous relationship that entraps men like Paco, and symbolizes the volatility and anguish of the Philippines as it claws itself out of antiquity and into the modern world.

"Guardia de Honor" is a somewhat surreal story that operates on a fractured timeline, as two young girls who actually live decades apart prepare to march in the Guardia de Honor parade for the Virgin Mary. They are both delivered terrible premonitions for the future, involving accidents and death, deceit and theft, and are forced to grapple with their convictions in either free will or fate. While the girl who embraced her free will has a happier ending than the other paralyzed by the knowledge of her fate, it is ultimately ambiguous as to how much control either of them truly had.

"Doña Jeronima" is a love story that tracks the making of a fable through time and space, as a woman named Jeromina tries to claim the Archbishop as her lover, as he allegedly made an oath to her years before. The Archbishop does not believe Doña Jeronima, and she even admits that she had acted out of her own pride, and is sent to a cave for penance. However, the Archbishop sees a vision of his ghost traveling down the river to join Doña Jeronima, refiguring a pagan myth about a nymph who would lure men to her cave from the river. Soon after, the Archbishop fulfills his oath after his death.

"The Order of the Melkizedek" is perhaps the fastest paced story in the collection, centering on a political and religious mystery that the protagonist, Sid, is unwittingly roped in to. Sid returns from living in the United States to his home country to visit his half-sister Adela, who is concerned about their youngest sister, Guia, and her participation in a new religious organization that she deems as "radical" (175). Through a series of coincidences and small pieces of the puzzle coming together, Sid uncovers the powerful truth behind the Melkizedek priest, who is attempting to seduce more people into his plot for power.

"Cándido's Apocalypse" is a surreal story tracing a living nightmare experienced by teenager Bobby Heredia, who obsessed and disgusted with the concept of overacting, or vapidity and constructed performance he sees in others, begins to see everyone around him fist stark narked, and then eventually as disgusting skeletons. He experiences this nightmare through the eyes of his alter ego, Cándido. Eventually, Bobby is able to split from Cándido, but the alter ego still follows him and walks around the city.

"A Portrait of the Artist as a Filipino" is a play in three scenes that traces the disintegration, yet ultimate reunification, of the Marasigan family in a time leading up to the devasting effects of World War II. The patriarch of the Marasigan family, Don Lorenzo, was once a sought after painter who, in his self-prescribed hermitage, has produced one last masterful painting which becomes an enormous source of tension in the family as he refuses to sell it, and two of his daughters are enlisted to protect it against their more greedy siblings.

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