In Hilary Bettis’ play, The Ghosts of Lote Bravo, Juanda meets with the saint La Santa Muerte in order to know where her daughter is. However, during the meetings, La Santa Muerte tells her that she needs sacrifice to know the answer. Thus, Juanda starts to look back at her past, and finds out the decisions she made and the struggles she endured are the key to find Raquel.
Juanda unintentionally sent Raquel into prostitution by buying her that red shirt and telling her to find a job. But she had no other choice. Her family’s financial struggle is the difficulty of many other families—Camille warned her when they were working: “there are a hundred starving women outside salivating over your job. You have three children who will starve to death if you walk out that door” (50). People flooded into this place for opportunities, but there were not enough jobs for them, while this factory job was the only source of Juanda’s family income. Juanda had four children to feed, but her salary was barely enough. That was the reason she sent Raquel to work: “I told her we would starve to death if she didn’t help. I told her it was her responsibility because she was the oldest” (58). Juanda did not intend to send Raquel into prostitution, but after what happened, she starts to look back and judge herself. Her regret tells her that every decision she made is the catalyst for Raquel’s job choice, especially her choice of buying the red shirt. She says later to Santa Muerte that “I knew how to feed us the moment I saw that red shirt,” but this is the regret she feels about herself after Raquel disappeared and died, not her original intention (60). Juanda had to send Raquel to work because of her financial struggle, and she bought the red shirt because it looks pretty on Raquel. Neither of the two decisions is her intention to send Raquel into prostitution, and she did nothing wrong making the two decisions.
Juanda’s past mistake was also the catalyst for her understanding of the meaning of “sacrifice” La Santa Muerte mentioned. As a faithful Catholic woman, she only believed in the Holy Virgin, and sex before marriage was not acceptable for her. When Camille brought her the statue of La Santa Muerte, she was reluctant to believe that the ghost of sins would guide her to Raquel (51). But the only hinderance was her regret of her past decisions. She did not want to believe that Raquel had become a prostitute—she spit on Pedro when he assumed Raquel was a “puta” (50). Juanda’s failure to acknowledge her past decisions prevents her from seeing the truth. La Santa Muerte asked her to make a sacrifice as the price to see the truth, but Juanda did not understand what “sacrifice” meant. She used her salary to buy cheap tequila, or stole nice tequila from a bar, trying to please La Santa Muerte, but neither of these were “sacrifice.” It was not until she prayed “My own blood for my daughter’s blood,” that she finally had the courage to admit her struggle and her choices, that Raquel’s blood was on her hands (60). Then La Santa Muerte finally explained to her that “A sacrifice, Juanda, is not what you give, but what you endure to give it” (60). Juanda had to acknowledge her past to see the future, and that realisation was what she endured. The holy Virgin was not able to see their sin because the Virgin had never experienced all these struggles. Juanda needed to see through her past and break her religious belief to see what actually happened.