Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the important role that certain elements--namely poison and natural remedies--play in the narrative of Mayra Montero. Poison and natural remedies are an intrinsic part of the Voodoo and Santeria religions, which are the framework for her novels. Within these religions poison serves a dual purpose. Montero's characters employ poison not only for personal gain--and in their struggle against the establishment--but also for more beneficial means, for instance as a way of obtaining food. Natural remedies are part of the magical-medicinal nature of these religions. They maintain the physical and spiritual well-being of the characters while strengthening relationships within their communities.

This analysis is based on four of Montero's novels: La trenza de la hermosa luna, Del rojo de su sombra, Tú, la oscuridad, and Como un mensajero tuyo . Foremost, we argue that Montero's use of poison and natural remedies in her novels counterbalances the influence of lo real maravilloso, a concept that originated with Alejo Carpentier. For instance, we see Montero using these elements to describe the life and customs of her characters in a realistic manner. Moreover, we highlight the similarities and differences between Carpentier and Montero in order to illustrate his influence on her work.

In addition, we make the claim that although lo real maravilloso is present in Montero's novels, the progression of her works indicates that she is gradually departing from the "marvelous". As we move chronologically through Montero's novels, we discover a shift from lo real maravilloso to a more socially conscious view of Afro-Caribbean culture. This is most evident in the transition from Montero's earlier novels, La trenza de la hermosa luna and Del rojo de su sombra--in which she emphasizes the "marvelous" aspects of the Santeria and Voodoo religions--to her more recent novels, Tú, la oscuridad and Como un mensajero tuyo , which focus more on social and personal conflicts.

Finally, this study pays tribute to Montero's deep interest in Afro-Caribbean cultures and the problems that afflict them.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.