The Cuban Swimmer is a one-act play in the tradition of magical realism. The drama depicts the trials and tribulations of a Cuban family in America. The main character, Margarita Suarez, is competing in the Women’s Swim to Catalina. Eduardo Suarez, Margarita’s father, Aida, her mum, Simon, Margarita’s brother, and Abuela, Margarita’s grandmother, have all come to support her. The writer claims to have based this play on her own background as a refugee at some stage in her life. In her play, Milcha Sanchez explores topics such as faith, marriages, race, identity crisis, and perseverance. First, religion is the dominant theme in the play. Milcha portrays Religion in various ways in the script. Margarita and her family are staunch Christians who believe in God and Hail Mary. Whenever something terrible occurs, they always pray for example when Mel calls them peasants, simple people, and amateurs, they all go to pray. Margarita seeks for God’s intervention when she sinks into the ocean, and no one was near to help her. After margarita disappearing, Simon asks god why everything had to be hard. Eduardo, on the other hand, asks God to take him instead of her children. He says they are his dreams and he loves them very much.
Self- identity is another theme that the writer explores in the Cuban Swimmer. At first, Mel the journalist hopes the family would not get too disappointed if Margarita would not have won. Mel means he had already predicted that Margarita wouldn’t win. Mel goes ahead and calls margarita the unknown swimmer swimming among professionals. The whole family is much disturbed when the Mel refers to them as a simple family on a ragtag boat. Eduardo in disappointment looks at the horizon thoughtfully. Aida reacts by saying she wanted Eduardo to call the TV station to demand an apology. Simon calls Mel an asshole. Even when Simon tells margarita that Mel had mentioned that she was an amateur who had no chance to win, Margarita is hurt. She prays to God to help her amidst these challenges. Margarita is the only hope for the identity of the family. In spite of the difficulties that margarita faced including sludge, cold, exhaustion, discouragement, and hallucinations she became the winner.
There is also racial discrimination in this play this is illustrated when Mel refers to Margarita as a Cuban. Margarita tries to show the society that Hispanic-Americans are as good as the Americans. The television reporters spoke English because they wanted to make fun of the immigrants. Mel says it is a miracle that among the professional swimmers there was room for amateurs like margarita. The Suarez’s family tries to keep their conversation private by communicating using Spanish. To show how much the reporters especially Mel looked down on Margarita, Mel says that as much as the whole family had come to support margarita he hopes they would not be too disappointed if she did not make it.
Apart from religion, self- identity and racial discrimination the theme of family relationships conveyed in this script. Mary Beth, the reporter, acknowledges the fact it was a family effort. Mel also comments that the father is the trainer and the mentor of margarita. The family of Suarez is a loving family always concerned about margarita’s progress. They are in a constant mood to cheer her even when she feels like giving up. The chant stories as they cheer margarita for example; Aida reminds Eduardo about the day he stole her from her home without her carrying anything. The grandmother Abuela is very excited to the helicopter; she jumps up and down. Whenever something wrong happens, the whole family goes to pray showing how bad they are affected. When margarita disappears Simon cannot imagine staying her sister; he even wants to jump in the water to get her. The father, on the other hand, regrets not allowing margarita to rest. He confesses that his children were his dreams. He prefers to die rather than the children.
The last theme that in the play is revealed in this play is persistence. Margarita faces challenges including ridicule, family distractions, sludge, cold in the sea, fatigue she does not give up. Aida is quick to discourage her saying she is not a machine, but Eduardo keeps on encouraging her to keep the rhythm, and concentrate. The father recalls how she had been training for many hours. He used to tie weights around her tiny wrists and ankles.
Milcha Sanchez has depicted themes of religion, family relationships, ethnicity, identity crisis and persistence in her play. Perseverance in the face of all the odds is the key to success in any area of life. People should not allow circumstances to discourage them from achieving their goals. It is also important to encourage those folks who feel like giving up just the way Eduardo persistently encouraged Margarita. By helping others, people will be able to achieve all they wanted in life.