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Gabrielle Olivieri

Professor Batty

English 101

10 May 2017

Perla; The Healer, The Teacher and The Leader

A saint is an individual who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness,

patience, kindness and expresses an extreme amount of gratitude toward others in return for

nothing. Perla Portillo is a great example of what a saint is and should be. Perla is the main

character in the novel Still Water Saints by Alex Espinoza. I recognize her as a saint because she

fills various roles for different members of her community by serving as a teacher, a healer and a

spiritual leader.

Perla lives in a town called Agua Mansa, a town with a large latino population on the

outskirts of Los Angeles. It is home to a botanica, a shop that sells herbs, candles, incense and

other items for spiritual healing purposes. Perla, the owner is well known throughout the

community for providing her clients with the things they need to overcome their problems.

When members of the community have problems of any kind, they go to the botanica to see the

local healer, Perla. There she practices her own special kind of white magic. White magic is

good and is for the sake of helping others unlike black magic which is used for bad purposes and

is considered evil. After a brief chat, she gives each customer a package consisting of teas, herbs

and candles depending on their situation.


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Each section of the book focuses on one character and and how Perla interacts with them

to help them with their problems. We come across many lucky people have the opportunity to

receive help from Perla. Perla treats all different people of all different ages, race and ethnic

backgrounds. She helps an overweight teenager named Rosa by giving her a special tea to help

her loose weight. She comes back often for Perla to check up on her. Even though Rosa stops

drinking the tea for personal reasons, Perla is still always there for Rosa when she needs

someone to talk to and she continues to visit and bond with her until they become very close

friends. Perla also provides medicine for people that she does not know. Perla also provides a

woman Nancy with medicine for her sick father. She even teaches a boy named Rodrigo how to

speak English and tries to guide him down the right path.

The most interesting person she treats is a therapist named Teresa. Teresa isn't just a

therapist, she is Perlas therapist. One day, Nancy came to be botanica looking for tea.

She said I need some tea, its my turn to be the paitent Still Water Saints (40) I think this is

interesting because they are both healers but in different ways. Teresa uses modern medicine

where Perla uses her white magic. In the second section of the book, we found out some

shocking information about Perla. She is a very lonely woman. She never had any children, her

parents passed away and her husband passed away. Perla wanted to have children but her

husband unfortunately could not have any. He did not want to look into second options like

Perla did. This left Perla alone with nothing left except the Botanica and the company of others

coming for help. You can tell that Perla genuinely loved helping others and that was the one

thing that made her happy. Dennis Thompson, HealthDay reporter states that positive activity
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interventions" -- like helping someone with groceries, writing a thank you note or even counting

your blessings -- can serve as an effective, low-cost treatment for depression. This is very similar

to what Perla does. She enjoys helping others at the botanical and treating them with what they

need, but she just doesnt give them herbs and teas, she takes time and gets to know each patient.

and every one of her patients that visit her. They see her as a mother figure or someone look up

to or talk to when they need help, especially Rosa. Everyone in the book just assumed that Perla

was happy with her life but were shocked when they found out how lonely she was. I believe

that Perla is depressed but suffers from smiling depression. Smiling depression is basically a

mask that people wear to hide their sadness. Approximately 10 percent of the United States

population is suffering from depression, which is 10 times more than those suffering from

bipolar disorder (1 percent) and schizophrenia (1 percent). Rita Labeaune argues. So it is very

easy to believe that Perla is suffering from some sort of depression. Perla interacting with people

and helping them out at the Botanica is an example of this. Some signs of smiling depression is

depressed mood (feeling extremely sad, hopeless, discouraged or empty) most of the day, every

day and also Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt. This is why Perla goes to Teresa for

therapy. Teresa also goes to Perla for tea so they both serve as patients towards each other.

Along with all of these characteristics, Perla is also a teacher. One day, a boy

mysteriously shows up at her shop in the pouring rain. She tells him to come back the next day

so he did. When he came back, he introduced himself as Rodrigo. Perla was curious to where he

lived and where he came from. She was concerned about the burn marks all over his body and

found out that he was from the slums. He told her that he didt speak english well and the only
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words he knew in English were bad words. He wanted her to teach him how to speak English so

she did.

Out of all of the characters Espinosa mentions in Still Water Saints, I have come to a

conclusion that Perla is the most helpful, caring, selfless individual in the book. All of these

characteristics are what makes her a saint. She may have many problems of her own but will

do anything to help anyone. She interacts with each and every individual and doing this makes

her happy.
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Works Cited

Dattilo, Natalie. "Are You Suffering From." IU Health. IU Health Psycians, 2016. Web. 02 May
2017. This website is titled " Are you Suffering from Smiling depression?

"Depression In the Elderly." WebMD. WebMD, 2009. Web. 02 May 2017. This source is from the
website Web.md".

Espinoza, Alex. "Page 26." Still Water Saints: A Novel. London: Picador, 2013. 26. Print.

Espinoza, Alex. Page 40. Still Water Saints: A Novel. London: Picador, 2013. 40. Print.

Espinoza, Alex. Page 79. Still Water Saints: A Novel. London: Picador, 2013. 79. Print.

Thompson, Dennis. "With Depression, Helping Others May in Turn Help You." Consumer
HealthDay. N.p., 02 Jan. 2012. Web. 23 May 2017.

"UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health." Major Depression - UNC Center for
Excellence in Community Mental Health. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, 10
Oct. 2012. Web. 02 May 2017.