Short Bites: The Breakfast

A short story in Amparo Davila’s The Houseguest, “The Breakfast” is about a family having, as the title suggests, breakfast. It is a family of four: father, mother, brother, and sister. Only the sister, Carmen, is referred to by name, so you get the feeling that she’s going to be an important character. And right you are: Carmen arrives at the breakfast table dazed from an awful dream, which she recounts to the family.

Much of the story is dialogue between the family members. From their conversations, we find out that the family is middle to upper class—the father and the mother are attending a fancy dinner that weekend, and the brother studies at a (most likely) university. We also find out that there is a lot of political unrest and that the brother has been actively participating in student protests against the government.

In times of political unrest, reactions are often mixed: the father and the mother prefer to keep their heads down while the brother chooses to attend protests. However, in this type of setting, things are not black and white. While the brother believes in taking a stand against the government, the father and the mother know the dangers of doing so. Unsurprisingly, parents would sleep better at night knowing that their family is relatively safe. You can’t blame them for that.

I really enjoyed reading “The Breakfast.” Having breakfast with family is such a common thing to do that you feel almost at home as you read the story. You are in a safe space.