With time her [Flor’s] reputation grew, people came to ask her for recipes, took her to the homes of rich people to teach the fine details and seasoning of this or that exacting dish. Dona Detinha Falcal, Dona Ligia Oliva, Dona Laurita Tavares, Dona Ivany Silveira, other “outstanding” ladies on whose friendship Dona Rozilda [Flor’s mother] so prided herself, recommended her to their acquaintances. Flor had twice as much work as she could do. It was one of those rich ladies who gave her the idea of a school, for, having asked for recipes and practical demonstrations, [a] she had insisted on paying [b] her for [c] her work, to make clear that [d] she was remunerating the excellent teacher and good friend, and not giving a cook a gratuity. Delicate subtleties of Dona Luisa Silveira, a great lady from Sergipe full of guile and very proud.
(Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, translated by Alfred A. Knopf)

There exist mingled anaphors above, it’s not easy to discern who is who. This is my understanding. Which is wrong?

[a] Silveira
[b] Flor
[c] Flor
[d] Silveira

Is it, to establish a cooking school, Silveira’s guile to save her tuition for cooking lesson? And is to pay Flor, a teacher, more proud, than to pay a cook? Is this what the words mean?

  • I have read it once and it appeared to me as follows: A - Dona Rozilda, B - Flor, C - Flor, D - Dona Rozilda. Jul 22 '14 at 5:07

A and D are referring to "one of those rich ladies", and the passage goes on to imply that this lady is Silveira. B and C are as you have them. I think the idea behind the passage is something like this:

One of those rich ladies, Dona Silveira, asked her for recipes and practical demonstrations. She insisted on paying Flor for her work, making it clear to everyone that she was paying a teacher and friend, rather than tipping a cook. This gave Flor the idea of starting a cooking school.

I don't think "guile" is a good word here; I'd use "subtlety" instead. The lady is drawing the distinction between a teacher and a cook by paying her for her lessons, to give Flor the subtle hint that she might do well to teach cooking as a profession.


You have the anaphora correct.

If Silveira had tipped Flor with a "gratuity", that would indicate that Flor was of lower status, like a simple cook.

If instead, Flor taught Silveira a valuable lesson, in fact, a lesson so valuable as to be worth paying for, it indicates Flor has the higher status of a cooking teacher.

She is "full of guile" in the sense of being clever enough to be aware of these "delicate subtleties."

One of the definitions of guile is: "clever or crafty character or behavior". This is something of an archaic usage. As BobRodes indicates, most people nowadays would take "guile" to pejoratively mean "duplicity".

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