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The Use Of Magical Realism In Regard To Homosexuality

1249 words - 5 pages

In the 1970s, Argentina was struck with political and social distress. With the death of President Peron and his wife, Isabel, coming into power – only to be overthrown by a military junta led by Jorge Videla – Argentina and its people were traumatized with terrorist violence “leaving hundreds dead” and thousands having “disappeared” (“Timeline: Argentina”). This era of violence became known as the ‘Dirty War’ and several of the people that went against the current socio-political system were left devastated or killed. Several of those killed were ones who were identified as either homosexuals or Marxists. Manuel Puig’s novel the Kiss of the Spider Woman portrays the story of two imprisoned men from different spectrums of the unacceptable standards that goes against the Argentinean society of the 1970s: one a Marxist (Valentin) political threat and the other a homosexual (Molina). At the onset of the novel, the two characters are presented as polar opposites who cannot seem to get along; which later on, their relationship evolves to one that requires them to have a real desire to become close to one another despite the prejudices instilled in them by the Argentine society. Through the movies described by Molina, we, the reader, are shown the progression of the two characters as they realize that they both are no different from the other and create a special bond. Puig’s uses of the movie the Cat People, the footnotes, and Molina’s death as symbols highlights the idea of magical realism. Through the use of magical realism, Puig allows the reader to become more open-minded towards different societal ideals, specifically homosexuality.
Magical realism, by definition, is a literary style that addresses social concerns, but masks them by veiling them through the usage of magical or fantastical symbolism highly used in Latin American literature. Puig’s use of this literary style not only challenges the conventions of the literature of his time, but also expresses the aggressive cultural and political issues of the time period. The issues of homosexuality are considerably personal to Puig, as he is a homosexual himself. The character of Molina is noted to be a direct representation of Puig and his inner conflict of dealing with his sexuality. This conflict can be seen symbolized through the movie, the Cat People, as described by Molina. Irena, the female protagonist of the film, exemplifies qualities of being afraid of her “greatest fear”; turning into a panther woman while with the one she loves and desires most (32). During the duration of the first two chapters, the motif of the panther woman and Irena’s fear symbolizes Molina’s fear of his sexual orientation. Despite proudly “being soft like a woman”, Molina is fearful of his sexual preference as it is his illegal sexuality that lead him to be imprisoned (29). Molina further shows his subconscious fear as he lists the fantastical expectations of his ideal man to Valentin. This illuminates the idea...

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