Make Your Home Among Strangers

by

Jennine Capó Crucet

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Make Your Home Among Strangers: Chapter 31 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Leidy tells Lizet that Lourdes has been spending all over her time over at Ariel’s house—she has only been coming home “to shower and to shit.” It turns out that the day Lizet saw Lourdes on national news was the last night she slept in her own bed—since then, she has been staying up all night for the vigil or sleeping over at one of the houses of her fellow Madres—or even at Ariel’s, which has been made available to the Madres. The house is now host to a “perpetual sleepover,” and women sleep at the house at all hours.
As Leidy fills Lizet in on what she’s missed, Lizet realizes just how all-consuming the Ariel affair has become not just in Lourdes’s life, but in Leidy’s too. Lizet now understands the magnitude of the job she has undertaken in coming home to pull Lourdes away from the constant protests and vigils.
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Leidy also explains that Lourdes has been using up all of her sick and vacation days at work, and is putting her job in jeopardy. Hearing this, Lizet feels hurt that her mother is using her vacation days for Ariel, but wouldn’t use them to spend more time with Lizet when she was home for Christmas. Lizet knows Lourdes’s behavior has to hurt Leidy, too, who is spending over half her paychecks from the hair salon on daycare for Dante.
Lourdes is so involved in the protests that she is betraying and actively endangering both of her daughters and her grandson.
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Leidy hands Lizet a piece of mail that came for her recently—it is a large manila envelope from UC Santa Barbara, postmarked three days before the start of spring break. Inside are all the application materials for Professor Kaufmann’s interest—Lizet now understands why Professor Kaufmann has been distant. Lizet lied about going home for spring break; Kaufmann must have thought she’d gotten the forms, but of course, Lizet hadn’t.
The letter from UC Santa Barbara is a symbolic reminder of all Lizet has left behind and sacrificed in order to come here—and all she stands to lose if she allows herself to be sucked into her family’s madness forever.
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When Leidy asks what the envelope is for and Lizet explains it’s for a summer internship, Leidy grows irate. She has been counting on Lizet to be around during the summer to help out with Dante. Lizet reassures her that she will be home after all—she is not taking the internship. Leidy makes Lizet swear she’ll come home, and Lizet promises. Lizet asks if they can go out and look for their mother, and Leidy agrees that they should.
Lizet has seen how adversely her leaving home has affected her family this year—so when Leidy asks her to promise to stay home for the summer, she does so seemingly in earnest, wanting to be around to keep Leidy, Dante, and Lourdes safe and out of trouble.
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Leidy, Lizet, and Dante head down the street towards Ariel’s. As they approach the house, they see a group of women gathered on the lawn, praying in Spanish. It takes Lizet a minute to spot Lourdes’s face—when she does, her first thought is that Lourdes looks like a stranger. When Lizet approaches Lourdes, though, Lourdes embraces her happily, and at last introduces her to all the other women as her youngest daughter. When Lourdes asks Lizet what she’s doing in Miami, Lizet explains that she came down to “get” Lourdes. Lourdes hugs Lizet tight, squeezing her hand just a touch too hard, as if she is perhaps “really mad.”
Just like when she came home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Lizet is surprised and hurt to find that her mother does not seem very genuinely excited to see her—she is more concerned with her new friends and her new cause than hearing about Lizet’s life or spending time with her.
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Lizet asks Lourdes if she’ll come home just for a little while so they can spend some time together, but Lourdes insists she can’t leave the prayer circle. The group is praying all weekend and then marching to the courthouse on Monday in support of the mayor of Miami, who has declared that no matter what the federal government says, Ariel will stay. Lizet tells her mother she doesn’t think this is possible, and she sees a current of anger sweep across her mother’s face. Lizet hurriedly says that Lourdes should stay and continue praying; Lourdes promises to visit later, when the group rotates.
Lizet realizes how deeply devoted Lourdes is to the cause when Lourdes gets angry at even the suggestion that the group’s mission is faulty or flawed. Lizet quickly tries to defuse her mother’s anger, perhaps remembering their fight at Christmas and how volatile Lourdes is when it comes to matters concerning Ariel.
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Lizet rejoins Leidy away from the group; Leidy is crying. She tells Lizet that she has come down here many times over the last few months to ask Lourdes for a favor, and Lourdes has never even acknowledged Leidy when she is with the Madres. Leidy begins hurrying back down the street towards the apartment, and Lizet runs behind her, trying to catch up. Back home, Leidy goes straight into the shower and then plays with Dante, ignoring Lizet all afternoon.
Lizet is jealous of Ariel, and Leidy is jealous of Lizet—they are both vying for Lourdes’s attention, and when Lizet gets even a sliver of it, it becomes clear from Leidy’s reaction just how hard things have been for Leidy and Dante the last few months.
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As evening is about to fall, Lourdes comes home to the apartment. She greets Lizet warmly, but tells her she doesn’t have much time—she doesn’t feel right not being at the vigil if she can be there. Lourdes tries to impress upon Lizet how important the work she and the Madres are doing. Lizet sees how hard her mother is trying to convince her that this is true, and so she relents; she tells Lourdes she understands.
Though Lizet is concerned about her mother’s well-being, she tries to give her the benefit of the doubt in this passage when she realizes how much the cause truly means to her.
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Lourdes asks if Lizet will come back to the vigil; Lizet is taken off guard, but Lourdes insists Lizet come. She urges Lizet to hurry and get her things while she takes a shower and changes. As Lizet watches her mother hurry through the apartment, she realizes Leidy has overheard everything. Lizet wants to try to explain, but Leidy shuts her bedroom door angrily. Once Lourdes is in the shower, Leidy comes out of her room. She urges Lizet not to “play around” with the Madres. Lizet asks Leidy not to be mad at her, but Leidy gathers up her things—and Dante’s—and leaves the apartment. Lizet watches from the window as Leidy packs Dante up into the car and drives away.
In this scene, Leidy feels betrayed even further when Lizet agrees to go to the vigil. She perhaps believes that Lizet is trying to get into Lourdes’s good graces by pandering to her interests rather than actually working to remove Lourdes from danger.
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Lizet goes back into Leidy’s room and packs for the “sleepover” part of the vigil. She knows that this is what she has come to Miami for—to face the Madres head-on, and drag her own mother away from them. Lourdes comes to the door and asks if Leidy left—Lizet says that she did. Lourdes doesn’t seem angry, and rather than mentioning Leidy again, asks if Lizet is ready to go. Lizet shoulders her bag, and the two of them head out into the night as the moon rises in the sky above them.
It turns out that Lizet has an ulterior motive for going to the vigil—she wants to see what she is up against, and understand what the Madres really are so that she can better plan how to extricate Lourdes from them. Lourdes is so wrapped up in the mania of the vigil that she barely cares that her other daughter and grandson are suddenly gone—she only wants to get back to Ariel and the Madres.
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