The Hour of the Star Discussion Question

Question: How does Lispector show masculinity in the character of Olímpico?

Ultimately, the need for power is woven through all of Olímpico’s desires and actions. He seeks to increase his power over others, be them women (Macabéa and Glória) or men above his social and economic standing. To do this with the former, he constantly puts down Macabéa to inflate his own ego, reducing her power in their relationship to increase his own. His approach with Glória is different, but still hinges on proving his superiority and demanding her submission. This is seen in the scene where he eats a hot pepper to impress Glória, as Lispector writes, “the nearly unbearable pain nevertheless toughened him, not to mention that Glória terrified started to obey him. He thought: didn’t I say I was a conqueror?” (56) Lispector continues, noting his desire to improve his social standing, wealth, and physical strength. With the latter, that is men above Olímpico’s social and economic standing, he attempts to make himself appear more prosperous than he actually is, donning a watch, calling himself a “metallurgist” (36), and showing possession of the right woman.