The Hour of the Star Discussion + Question

Something I found very intriguing about The Hour of the Star was its style of narration. Perhaps its the part of me that loves poetry, but the style of the narration came across as prose. Very early on, the narrator poses very large questions about life, consciousness, and what it means to simply exist. Based on these early themes my question is: How do we make sense of Macabéa’s death at the end of the story? Does her death lead to an interesting commentary on the core meaning of life and existence in the world?

At the end of the book, our narrator comes to the realization that everyone dies, even him. Perhaps this scene was a bit jarring after Macabéa’s drawn-out death, which spanned multiple paragraphs. Particularly the narrator’s departure when he says “Don’t forget that for now, it’s strawberry season.” (77) However, I think the abruptness helps strengthen Lispector’s central message of the book. No matter what type of life you lead, whether it’s seemingly as miserable and mundane as Macabéas, or as lavish as your favorite celebrity, nobody truly lives their life as if they are mortal. That is to say, no one wakes up thinking that this is the day that they’ll hit by a car. It’s an impossible expectation for people to have. Yet, even though it might seem cliche, death’s like Macabéas happen all the time. Perhaps not in the same way, but they certainly happen.

A sad example of this was the passing of Clayton Geib during the Fall semester, whose cause of death still isn’t fully known. His death was particularly hard for one of my friends on the football team. In our conversations following Clayton’s death, my friend told me that it was hard for him to really accept Clayton was gone, and that he was soon trapped in a cycle of telling himself, “I just played with him (Clayton) yesterday” and other similar comments for almost weeks on end. I believe Lispector tried to get at this concept with having Macabéa die so suddenly at the end.  Not only is contemplating our own mortality something everyone struggles with, but it’s not something we like to do, as evidenced by the narrator saying, “don’t forget that for now, it’s strawberry season.”

Personally, I thought the last quote reflected a sentiment reflected in one of my favorite Kanye West lyrics: “If you admire somebody you should go on ‘head tell ’em,
people never get the flowers while they can still smell ’em “