The Madres Para Justicia are on the news almost every day. They act as human speed bumps in the road in front of Ariel’s house and join hands in prayer night and day dressed in head-to-toe black in mourning for Ariel’s mother. One day, Lizet calls home and speaks to Leidy. When she asks how Lourdes is, Leidy replies that she’s “doing real good.”
Leidy continues misinforming and thus isolating and betraying Lizet by lying to her about Lourdes’s involvement with the Madres Para Justicia.
Lizet considers talking to Ethan about the problems she’s having at home, but doesn’t want him to talk to her as if he’s her RA. She has, so far, kept everything about her mother and Ariel from him; Ethan is the only one of her Rawlings friends who has never asked for her opinion on the Ariel case just because she’s Cuban. Though Ethan has seemed unusually stressed lately and Lizet doesn’t want to further burden him, she feels she is at a breaking point, and needs someone to talk to.
Ethan is the one person at Rawlings who hasn’t judged Lizet or treated her a certain way because of her hometown or her heritage; this has made her feel less lonely all semester. Now, though, at the height of her emotional stress and isolation, she decides she needs to really talk to Ethan, and to express who she is and what she’s going through to someone who will actually listen to her.
Lizet arrives at Happy Hours to find that Ethan isn’t there yet. He comes bounding through the front door soon enough, though, with a letter in his hand. He instructs Lizet to read it, but before Lizet can even take a look at the paper he tells her the news: he has gotten into Berkeley for graduate school. Lizet is shocked—she didn’t even know he was applying to grad school. Ethan says he didn’t tell anyone, as he only applied to a few schools and doubted he’d get in anywhere. Ethan is clearly excited, but all Lizet can ask is why he didn’t tell her earlier.
Ethan’s joy is met with skepticism and shock on Lizet’s part. In this passage, Crucet is turning the tables on Lizet—less than a year ago, Lizet was Ethan, bringing the exciting news of her Rawlings acceptance to people who were shocked by her secrecy and cared for her too much to be happy that she was leaving to follow her dreams.
Ethan is upset that Lizet isn’t happy for him and won’t congratulate him. Lizet’s eyes fill with tears as she realizes that the way she’s feeling now must be how her parents felt when she told them she was going to Rawlings. Lizet still wants to tell Ethan about her own problems and ask what to do about the internship, but in a way she already knows what he’ll say: he’ll tell her to live her life only for herself. This, she thinks, is why Ethan is going to Berkeley while she herself is “going nowhere.”
Lizet is sad that Ethan is leaving—and envious of his ambitious but not selfish demeanor, which allows him to pursue what he wants without shame or fear. Ethan has been a good friend to Lizet, and in many ways an inspiration; now, he is leaving, and she is stuck at Rawlings with a slew of problems and no one to help her through them.
Lizet insists she’s happy for Ethan, but confused as to why he wouldn’t have told her about his plans earlier. Ethan is disappointed that Lizet isn’t “one hundred percent happy” on his behalf, and accuses her of making his success about her misery. Secretly Lizet resents Ethan for having a future that is all about his own success; out loud, she accuses Ethan of getting angry that Lizet didn’t want to “suck [his] dick” immediately upon hearing the news.
Feeling sad, trapped, and cornered, Lizet decides to lash out crudely at Ethan and accuse him of manipulating her when really it’s she who’s hurting and manipulating him. Just like in the TV lounge, Lizet is lashing out madly, trying to get someone to see her point of view.
Ethan, confused and hurt as to why Lizet is reacting so badly to his news, tells her that he’s not going to let her stop him from celebrating. Ethan gathers up his things and starts to leave. Lizet tries to stop him and assure him that she is truly happy for him, but something has broken; Ethan is cold and distant, and simply tells her to enjoy her spring break.
Ethan has valued Lizet’s friendship just as much as she has his over the course of the school year; now, he feels betrayed by her reaction. Just as Lizet shut herself off from her family when this situation happened to her, Ethan begins shutting Lizet out, too.
Lizet is alone in the dorms all of spring break—Jillian and Ethan are both away, so Lizet spends her days in the library, studying and writing (and then deleting) apology letters to Ethan. Lizet is worried she will run into Professor Kaufmann—she lied to her about going home for spring break in order to put off talking about the internship. Once classes start again, Lizet notices that Professor Kaufmann is distant. Lizet doesn’t receive any of the paperwork Professor Kaufmann told her she’d be sending her way, and Lizet realizes sadly that Professor Kaufman has given up on her.
Lizet is left alone on campus for spring break, her external situation symbolizing the intense internal isolation she feels. Lizet’s lies are piling up, and as a result she is feeling like a traitor not just to Ethan, but to herself—and her dreams—as well.