From Verbal to Visual

© Jack Remick and Robert J Ray

Gabriela: Writing About Writing

October 8, 2010

Today I write about writing and the arc of revelation. In Gabriela is there a hierarchy in the way La Viuda discloses her secrets to Gabriela? Does she start with flowers and end with the brutal revelations of infidelity that define El Señor? Does she start with soft photos of mountains and end with the suffocating death of El Señor in the heat and fire of his mountain grave?

Does La Viuda want to shock Gabriela?
Does La Viuda want to test her?
Does she want to ease her into the Role Reversal that drives the story?

The key is in the boxes and in the photos—La Viuda tests Gabriela—how tough is she? How hard is La Viuda—she’s looking for a replacement, she’s already driven away twelve women who weren’t tough and right.

La Viuda eases Gabriela into her life using the photos of flowers to show Gabriela the Garden of Flowers that indexes the happy life with El Señora. Then, as the story moves through time, and we get into Gabriela’s Dream Mind, La Viuda brings in the hard objects—The Coins, The Jewels, the Photos, the Letters—so just as the List has its hierarchy:

Object    With the back notes on each card

The arc of revelation flows from Garden to Wasteland:


And the diagram of the arc of revelation :

At the Clothing Node, Gabriela tries on the Sable Coat and it’s not until that scene that La Viuda reveals her affair with the Russian sable rancher and at the same time reveals that the Russian is Liah’s father—not El Señor—but he knew and said nothing because his own guilt was so heavy.

When the transfer of La Viuda’s life to Gabriela takes place, the thick-thin spine reverses—La Viuda’s life– rich and thick with objects and experiences—transfers to Gabriela whose thin life takes on enormous weight as she tries on the sable coat, wears the jewels—all of them from both chests—so that she weighs too much to move and sleeps on the bed of gold coins—at this point the double diagram (see below) reveals Gabriela’s arc from Wasteland to Garden as shown here:

So the story of Gabriela Dominguez and La Viuda is a double strand reversal story on the Moebius Strip and in the double diagram it looks like this:

Gabriela’s Journey                                     La Viuda’s Journey

As Gabriela then buries La Viuda and changes her clothing, the clothing arc indexes her inner journey by cloaking her in a new dress—the arc is from:
Huipil and barefoot to
Blue Pinafore to
Yellow dress to
Levis and shirts and Nikes to
Sable coat to
Black dress (for BD party and test ritual fitting) to
Remaking in the shop to
Red dress (what she wanted in the shop in Oaxaca) as Death Goddess

So if I plot the Inner Arc on the Diagram against clothing it looks like this:

So the order has to be:  Flowers, Coins, Jewelry, Photos, Letters.

Here Gabriela then adjusts the sequence on the List to match the Arc of Revelations of Ritual Change from Wasteland to Garden and is twin—Garden to Wasteland.

This then indexes La Viuda’s constant allusions to the Lords of Xibalba who die and go to the Underworld leaving the Garden just as El Señor dies and goes to the Underworld and so the Myth Base for Gabriela Dominguez, is, as I have always known, A Death and Resurrection retelling with the Lords of Xibalba indexing the vegetation cycle—Gabriela as seed is thin and dark, exposed to the richness of La Viuda’s life she explodes—Her breasts fill out, her hips widen, her hair grows thick lustrous black and she then is in full flower. This indexes the cycle again of:

Garden to Garden
Wasteland to Garden

And so Gabriela in her red dress has to return, key word, to the wasteland of her village to bury the bones of the dead. The story here walks the line between cliché and myth until those bones appear, then it is a burial of the dead indexing again the myth base of Lords of Xibalba and El Señor which in Spanish refers to Lord. El Señor which is a translation of Adonai which means master and gives us Adonis.

So the arc of revelation is itself on the mythic dynamo spinning in two directions like two geared-wheels turning—one spins La Viuda from Garden to Death, the other spins Gabriela from Death to Garden.

The Index in the opening:

The year the war ended, Gabriela Dominguez walked with her sick mother from her village in the mountains to Paso de la Reina…with all its echoes of The Metamorphosis (Kafka, of course)—careful another myth base emerging here—Emerging from the Chrysalis—the Coming of Age archetype for women. Gabriela starts flat chested, narrow hipped, ends up full and ripe and rich. Transformation into a red butterfly (on the butterfly-insect plot track she sees birds eat two blue butterflies one day) who then seeks out her own replacement to continue the cycle that ends as Gabriela interviews a dozen girls in Jamiltepec before she settles on one who reminds her of herself at that age—simple, thin, lean, innocent but not destroyed by the war. And so the story spins out into an Idyll at the end, a pastorale sort of ending with Gabriela thick and rich, taking her replacement to the Valley of Death where she will go through her own crises—pain, change, emergence at which time she will bury Gabriela Dominguez.