Make Your Home Among Strangers


Jennine Capó Crucet

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Make Your Home Among Strangers: Chapter 24 Summary & Analysis

On Tuesday, there is another rally in anticipation of the court releasing its decision on Ariel’s asylum status. Lizet again goes along with Lourdes, mainly out of a desire to support her mother. They stand at the front of the crowd, and when Ariel’s uncle and Caridaylis come out, they both look exhausted and bereaved. The crowd immediately intuits that whatever news they have to share will be bad.
This rally is not like the joyful New Year’s Day one; from the outset, there is a somber tone. Because of the foreshadowing in the last chapter, it is easy to see that things are about to take a turn for the worse.
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The uncle states that their worst fears have come true, but as he continues his speech, Lizet stops listening. She looks at Lourdes, who seems to be “melting”; Lourdes turns her face toward the sky and lets out a long, horrible scream. The rest of the crowd begins wailing too. Lourdes screams that Ariel’s mother “died in vain,” and as the news outlets push through the crowd to get a closer shot of Lourdes’s breakdown, other demonstrators try to calm her down. The crowd rushes forward towards the house, but Lourdes falls to her knees, screaming that Ariel cannot go back.
As the sad news breaks, Lizet is frightened and alarmed by her mother’s intense emotional reaction to the news—not to mention that of the rest of the people in the crowd. As the mob grows uneasy, Lourdes escalates the emotion by acting out dramatically—whether her reaction is real or feigned, even Lizet cannot tell.
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Lizet is confused about what has just happened, and a friend of Lourdes’s explains that the INS has granted Ariel’s father back in Cuba custody of the boy; in two weeks, he will be deported. Lizet looks up at the front of the house, where Caridaylis is being harassed by reporters. Lizet, feeling a sudden rush of empathy, hurries forward and places her hand on the lens of a reporter’s camera, but is quickly pushed aside. Caridaylis covers her face with her hands and rushes back inside the house.
Though Lizet is taken aback and unsettled by the intense emotional reactions taking place all around her, she finds herself—against all odds—swept up in the drama of the situation and overtaken by an intense sadness on behalf of Ariel and his family.
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Lizet hears someone shouting her mother’s name; she turns around and realizes that Lourdes has collapsed in the middle of the crowd and is in danger of being trampled. Lizet pushes through the mass of bodies, sustaining a blow to the ear on her way to her mother. Lizet reaches Lourdes and tries to pull her to her feet; when this is unsuccessful, she grabs her mother’s face and begins shouting “Mami” to wake her up. One of Lourdes’s friends chastises Lizet for calling Lourdes “Mami,” and tells her Lourdes’s name. Lizet realizes in that instant that no one at the protest knows she is Lourdes’s daughter. Lourdes’s friends pull her body away from the crowd—and away from Lizet—as she screams after them, in English and in Spanish, the truth of who she is. The women push forward and do not turn around.
As the situation begins getting out of control, Lizet is horrified to realize that all this time her mother has never admitted to anyone that Lizet is her daughter. This is not just cruel or petty, but actually dangerous, as Lizet is barred from helping her mother in a moment of intense crisis. Lizet realizes that she—and Lourdes—are both in over their heads.
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