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Book Review - the Kiss of the Spider Woman

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In his novel The Kiss of the Spider Woman, Manuel Puig employed characterization to compare the two characters and the subtext to foreshadow the two character's sexual encounter.

Puig amplifies the use of characterization because there is no narration to this novel and in order to understand the book, the characterization must be clear. In the passage on page 140, there is a very detailed characterization of Molina. She has always been seen as mother-like and in this passage she literally becomes the mother of Valentin. She treats him like a child when he's sick due to the poison. Whether this is out of guilt or sincerity it is unsure. But one thing is certain and that is that Molina does care for Valentin. Throughout the novel, Valentin has been characterized as the masculine figure; strong and independent whereas Molina was characterized as passive and sensitive. In the previous chapter when Molina fell ill, Valentin was conceited and uncaring and revealed his pride over Molina. However, the author made Valentin weak, dependent, which denounced him from Molina. Molina is portrayed as strong, caring and independent as a contrast to Valentin. The author does this to discard the information given by society and prove that homosexuals are people too. The author contrasts these characters to the extent that they became foils. They switched each other's characteristics and they were still the opposite of each other.

The author uses the subtext to portray societal views on homosexuals and to foreshadow future relations of the two characters. Puig uses both of these techniques in the subtext because this is the only narration space he has to put in popular views and once the event takes place, the reader isn't biased towards the characters due to society but has both points of view. The subtext discusses the stages in which a homosexual child goes through sexually. In a sense, Freud, the writer of On the Transformation of Instincts, wants the public to believe that homosexuality is immature and childish. Once the readers find in later chapters of the sexual encounter by the characters, they will understand what Puig is trying to convey giving them their own interpretation preventing biasness.


Puig, Manuel. Kiss of the Spider Woman.



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