For the nearly five decades Fidel Castro ruled this country, he was a daily presence in Cubans’ lives. His speeches echoed on their televisions, and his harsh rules shaped almost every aspect of their existence.

They woke up Saturday and found out he was gone.

A numbness has set in here since. Few Cubans seemed to believe the death of Castro at age 90 will bring immediate transformation of their country, the only one-party state in the Western Hemisphere. After all, poor health forced Castro aside in 2006, and the system he created has carried on without him.

But Castro’s death nonetheless represents a psychological break with Cuba’s past and the figure who has dominated it for three generations. There is enormous, built-up pressure, especially among younger generations, for a faster pace of change that brings new freedoms and better living standards.