The Hour of the Star

How does Macabea’s interaction with Madame Carlota reflect early attitudes toward women in Brazil?

The Macabea’s interactions with Madame Carlota are symbolic of the larger attitudes towards women in Brazil for several reasons. One, this interaction shows a clear exploitation of Macabea’s insecurities and vulnerabilities. Carlota targets her by first telling her of a life of pain and disappointment, but then immediately changes course to explain that Carlota’s life will be happy and fulfilling (66). While the specificities of the exchange are not as importance, the way that the author shows Macabea’s immediate acceptance shows a commentary on the perceived naivety and submissiveness of women. Her inability to notice the complete turnaround in her life as part of Carlota’s scheme to exploit money from her also reinforces this notion. Furthermore, Carlota’s reasoning for asking for payment, namely that “everything [she] earns as a card-reader [she] gives to an orphanage,” and Carlota’s acceptance of that excuse also shows the association of trustingness with femininity (68). While this scene specifically shows how the author was commenting on the perceptions of women in early Brazil, Macabea’s other interactions also show those stereotypes. For instance, her interactions with her boyfriend, Olimpico de Jesus, shows the idea of trustingness. Despite his lying about most aspects of his life, she still believes and accepts him without question (36). Thus, this novel provides important commentary on gender stereotypes in Brazil and in a larger context.