Discussion Question: What does this text reveal about the life of poverty in Brazil?
Response: This literary piece reveals the inevitable fate of those in the slums through viewing the society in pessimistic perspectives. Clarice Lispector, a Brazilian female writer, shares a depressing, helpless, and soulless life of Macabea to emphasize the endless vicious cycle that strictly exists within the slums. Throughout the text, Lispector draws a clear distinction between the rich and poor through expressing her words in a straightforward manner, which she describes this writing technique as being “naked” (8). Her portrayal of Macabea as incompetent, hopeless, and emotionless signifies the true reality of the impoverished lives in Brazil. For example, Lispector states that Macabea’s “life was more tasteless to her than old bread with not butter” (50). She further points out that the life of a destitute female indicates emptiness which emotion, purpose of existence, and meaning in life were mere luxury (52,76). Moreover, the text implies that those from the slums were inherently designed to undergo a dismal life that would never possess the qualities of the rich. For example, Lispector mentions Macabea “was nervous about drinking rich people’s stuff [and that] she got sick” (57). Moreover, she notes that Macabea was forced by the society to be organically simple because she was “the rejects of a very high society” (58). Her demise caused by a Mercedes car, an evident indicator of richness, strongly emphasizes that those with low socioeconomic status were the subordinated entities of the larger society. Lispector concludes that “in the end [Macabea] was not more than a music box that was slightly out of tune” (77) and that [Macabea] “was finally free of herself” (76). Through actively engaging with her pessimistic perspectives, Lispector argues that the life of poverty was fatalistic and deliberately constructed to discriminate the poor from the mainstream society.
Lispector, Clarice. The hour of the star. Vol. 733. New Directions Publishing, 1986.