by Rosario Ferré a Puerto Rican author who spearheaded the local feminist movement. Upon research, I found out that her father was one of the framers of the Puerto Rican constitution.

Ferré’s short story uses magical realism; it adds fantastical elements and blends it with horror.

The short story revolves around an aunt who has a prawn growing inside her leg. She spends her time making porcelain dolls of her nieces. She makes dolls as they grow older, one doll representing each stage of their life. She makes a final doll for each of the nieces before their wedding. The youngest niece is courted by the son of a doctor, the doctor who had exploited the aunt’s misfortune to fund his son’s education. He could have prevented the prawn from living in her leg, but he chose to let it fester.

The doctor’s son(a doctor himself) succeeds in marrying the youngest niece. The aunt gives the niece a porcelain doll which seems more life-like than all her previous ones. The eyes had diamonds and the teeth used were the niece’s very own baby teeth. The doctor treats the niece as an object. He asks her to sit in the balcony, only to signify to society that he was married. He was greedy, pried the eyes out of the doll and sold it. He tried to pawn the entire doll, but the doll had suddenly gone missing.

The doctor becomes a millionaire in time. He continues to age while the niece does not. Curious, he goes to her room in the night to check on her. What he sees is a seemingly lifeless body. He then notices the antennae of hundreds of prawns jutting out of her eye sockets.

The story reads like a cautionary folk tale. The kind of stories adults would tell children to spook them, or to scare them into not misbehaving. Except, in this story, the “moral” is not as explicit.

The story can be interpreted as a commentary on the objectification of woman and how the upper classes of the society take advantage of the lower ones. They get to the top only by standing on top of others, crushing them.

The atmosphere is built beautifully. The prose feels a bit flat personally, something that could be attributed to the fact that this was translated from Spanish. It is a wildly imaginative piece that is beautifully absurd and slightly macabre. Even without the subtext, it makes for a great reading.