In this novel and the society it portrays, the maintenance of racially segregated families (the planter with an official and an unofficial family) leads to incest, which destabilizes the patriarchy because it collapses the control the planter maintains and also supports and extends by having multiple, separate families. This threatens to destroy (and not support) the bourgeois family and if this analogy applies, the nation.
The only sure way for Cecilia to evade incest would be to marry an African-born Cuban. Yet in the context of whitening this union would be advantageous for the darker person only. Although the participation of slaves was necessary to overthrow the colonial government, the alliance of Afro-Cuban men and Creole women was not a legitimate option. All women belonged to the Master…. Leonardo’s attraction to Cecilia is disallowed because of incest, but allowed “off the books” and even required because of mestizaje/whitening.
The criollo is in an eternal Oedipal state because he lacks political autonomy, and the anti-colonial struggle is an Oedipal conflict. (What does Fanon say about this, he must say something?) Here Leonardo is interesting because he does in fact rebel against his father; maturity would be modernity. He le arrebata la madre a su padre in the form of his sister who is not his father’s wife, and who is not criolla. He denies his father by repeating his actions since his death means the family never gets the royal title his father was hoping for. This way, the Cuban elite cuts its ties with Spain.
The national family, however, still has to be white and latifundista; now, however, purity of blood is now established outside the madre patria. Racial concubinage has to be repressed so the patriarchy can be restored. The mere existence of a mulatto middle class endangers Creole economic interests, and the incest in this novel emphasizes the cultural and social clash of these two worlds. The invocation of the incest taboo slows mestizaje and offers the white bourgeois family as model for a modernizing future.
So: the more liberal alternative is what is killed off in this novel: Cecilia, Isabel, Leonardo, and the baby all die — just as everyone dies in María.