Top critical review
on 13 November 2016
I found the footnotes on Freud, Reich, Marcuse, Brown et al intensely annoying – in which order do you read them and the main text?
They tend to appear at moments of misunderstanding between Molina and Valentín.
They deal with "perversions" as threats to the "basic repressive principles fundamental to the organization of capitalism." They point to the need for men to liberate women locked in the dungeons of their psyche and restructure their views of sexual normality. Molina, might be a revolutionary element in his own way.
It’s more like a piece of drama than a novel – then again, the author was a playwright.
The novel is an indictment of a disengaged aesthetic perspective in the context of a world where people have to take sides. Valentín, the Marxist protagonist, has risked his life and willingly endured torture for a political cause, and his example helps transform his cellmate into a citizen, someone who will enter the world. Likewise, Molina's love of aesthetics and cultural life teaches Valentín that escapism can have a powerfully utopian purpose in life: escapism can be just as subversive and meaningful as overt political activity.
Other major themes include political psychology, film, love, and communism
The warden is how Manuel Puig defines masculinity because he is the only character in the book that truly holds power; power not only over the prison system but specifically on Molina because we can see how he is the one to tell Molina to “stop your trembling” and to “weigh your words”. That the warden is the opposite of Valentin’s definition of a man shows Valentin’s aversion toward the current power system in his country.
According to Matthew Teorey in Spinning a Bigendered Identity in Silko’s Ceremony and Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman, the Spider Woman in Native American tradition is the ‘creator of the universe and an important source of cultural wisdom and social values’. However, in Western Culture, Spider Woman was named Arachne, who was a ‘master weaver of Greek mythology … her story [was] a morality tale’. The myth of Arachne is where she challenges the gods to a weaving competition, she loses and as a result of losing she is turned into a spider. In Kiss of the Spider Woman, Molina is the spinner/weaver of webs, tales and suspense as he retells the films and lies as he ‘in league’ with the warden of the prison.
Molina has a female name as he believes himself to be a woman, so when he talks about the beautiful women in the films he is in awe and jealous as he aspires to be like them. Reading Teorey’s Spinning a Bigendered Identity, he writes what each character has and what the other needs to change within them and links them with the other character, like a balancing act of the character’s characteristics: Valetin finds in himself embraced and empowered by a friendship that reintegrates the two halves of his selfhood: reason and emotion/sensuality. Molina…[is in] two halves: he has adopted a stereotypically submissive and domestic feminine identity and needs some of Valentin’s masculine rebelliousness and self-respect to be whole.
Sections in italics pp.1265f repeat ‘a fellow’, ,a mother’, a girl’ and ‘ a classmate’.
I had to look up ‘percale’ = a closely woven plain-weave fabric often used for bed covers