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Literature / Sweet Diamond Dust

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Cursed love

Sweet Diamond Dust, by Puerto Rican author Rosario Ferré, collects in a single book the novel by the same title and three short stories. It was published in Spanish in 1987 as Maldito amor ("Cursed love" or "Damned love") and translated by the author herself.


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    Sweet Diamond Dust 
  • Domestic Abuse: Don Julio towards his wife, Doña Elvira. According to Don Hermenegildo's account, after they move out from the city, she asks for things that will make the home nicer, like a bathtub or a flush toilet, and he refuses. When he reaches his Rage-Breaking Point, he beats her and tells her to stay away from his business.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Nicolás and Arístides. Nicolas attends a university in Europe where he studies philosophy; the more pragmatic Arístides studies agriculture at the University of Puerto Rico to assist the Family Business.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: In-universe. What Don Hermenegildo is trying to do with Don Ubaldino De la Valle.
  • Let the Past Burn: Gloria sets the old home on fire, destroying Don Hermenegildo's manuscript (and potentially killing him). She encourages Titina to join and watch.
  • Open Secret: That Don Julio Font, the great patriarch of the De la Valle family, was a black man. His race was the reason why Don Ubaldino's and Doña Laura's daughters are snubbed by the other families.
  • Race Lift: In-Universe. Don Hermenegildo's account of Don Julio's courtship and marriage to Doña Elvira describes him as a Spaniard with green eyes and fair skin. He... isn't. To perpetuate this false notion, there are no pictures of him, unlike Doña Elvira.
  • The Reveal: Don Julio was not the fair-skinned, green-eyed Spaniard that his daughter-in-law Laura had been led to believe he was. He was black instead, which the De La Valle family tried to conceal.
    • The real reason why Doña Laura rewrote her will so that Gloria and Nicolasito inherit everything.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Don Hermenegildo, Arístides, Titina, Doña Laura and finally Gloria.
    The Gift 
  • Bittersweet Ending: Carlotta is expelled from school and traumatized by Mother Artigas's attack and Merceditas sacrifices all the academic honors she worked for. But she has put Mother Artigas in her place and she knows Carlotta will be fine despite her expulsion.
  • Bookends: The story begins with Carlotta giving Merceditas the mango given to her by the carnival committee. It ends by Merceditas taking the fruit she was forced to keep in her desk and handing it off to Mother Artigas.
  • Clothing Damage: After giving Carlotta her Traumatic Haircut Mother Artigas tears up her school uniform as she slaps and hits her.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Merceditas is punished for having accepted the mango Carlotta gave her by having to keep it inside her school desk during the rest of the school year and watching it ripen and finally rot.
    • Just before Carlotta leaves the school, the Mother Artigas attacks her, chopping off her hair and delivering both a beatdown and a The Reason You Suck speech complete with a racial slur.
  • Death Glare: When Merceditas grabs Mother Artigas's hand to stop her attack of Carlotta, the mother steps back and delivers one.
  • Evil Smells Bad: Less evil, more "classism, snobbery, and racism". After Mercedita's strange punishment for hiding the mango, she starts noticing a strange smell in the halls. Both she and Carlotta, who also notices it, agree that it seems to be stronger whenever they are close to a nun.
  • Stern Nun: Mother Artigas starts out as a reasonable version of this but ends up attacking Carlotta.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Mother Artigas cuts off Carlotta’s beautiful hair before the latter leaves the school. This is a spiteful gesture on her part, as Carlotta is carnival queen.
    Isolda's Mirror 
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Don Augusto tells Adriana that the Spaniards and the wealthy plantation owners were oppressing the people of Puerto Rico, which is why the latter welcomed the U.S. when it landed in the island in 1898. Adriana responds that the United States did ally itself with the big corporations that ended up swallowing up the smaller farm owners.
    The Strange Death of Captain Candelario 
  • Alternate History: The story takes place in an alternate version of 1998 where the United States is no longer interested in the territory of Puerto Rico. It ends up becoming an independent republic by the name of San Juan Bautista (the name given to Puerto Rico by Christopher Columbus).
  • Career-Ending Injury: Pedro's athletic aspirations end when the Missionaries raid Villa Cañona and beat him so roughly he is left with a limp.
  • Foil: Captain Candelario and Pedro are foils to each other. Candelario has fair skin and blond hair, comes from a very wealthy family, and highly educated. Pedro is darker in skin and comes from a slum.
  • Honey Trap: Barbara, a salsa music supporter, engages in a romantic affair with Candelario, and ends up leading him to his death.
  • The Mole: Pedro is Candelario's lieutenant in the Missionaries but he is also supporting the salsa movement.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The unseen narrator starts out depicting Candelario as a hero who was tragically killed and then describes in full detail how he really died.