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The Hour of the Star

The Hour of the Star


by Clarice Lispector

The Hour of the Star Chapter 5 Summary

  • Glória feels pretty bad, so she suggests that Macabéa visit a clairvoyant, which is going to make up for her boyfriend-stealing … how, exactly?
  • Anyway, the point is that the fortuneteller told her that Olímpico was hers, ergo the fortuneteller is never wrong.
  • Uh-huh. And we have a chest full of gold waiting for you at the end of the next rainbow.
  • The narrator jumps out of the story again and tells us that he wants to sin. Oooo-kay.
  • He then says that he thinks of Macabéa's vagina as the only sign of her existence.
  • Look, we're just reporting.
  • Anyway, Glória lends Macabéa the money to go to the fortuneteller, and Macabéa asks her boss for time off.
  • She takes a taxi for the first time in her life.
  • Madame Carlota, the clairvoyant, welcomes Macabéa very warmly at the door, calling her various pet names. Macabéa is totally caught off-guard
  • Macabéa admires the waiting room while she sips on cold coffee. She's impressed by all of the plastic in it: "Plastic was the last word in luxury" (5.370).
  • Plastic: a modern classic.
  • Madame Carlota is a voluptuous woman with shiny red lips and cheeks. The narrator says that she "looked like a large china doll that had better seen better days" (5.372). Enough said.
  • Madame Carlota reassures Macabéa that Jesus is totally on their side and has even helped her succeed by helping her get money to buy expensive furniture. Thank you, Jesus!
  • Popping chocolates into her mouth, Madame Carlota tells Macabéa her life story.
  • Madame Carlota spits out detail after dirty detail about her life of hustling and surviving, whether as a prostitute, a manager of a brothel, or a fortuneteller.
  • So, really this session seems to focus more on her than on Macabéa.
  • Wow, there sure is a lot of violence in these stories—fighting with the other prostitutes or having a sadistic affair with one of her clients, you know.
  • We definitely get the sense that Madame Carlota is a tough lady, but it's also clear that she's a big ol' fraud.
  • Macabéa sticks to "yes" and "no."
  • Finally, it's time to divide the cards.
  • "Bang."
  • Madame Carlota begins by telling her how horrible her life has been and currently is. Well, we agree so far.
  • Macabéa, however, has never thought of it quite that way. She's stunned to realize that her life is so crummy.
  • But naturally, her life is about to make a complete 180.
  • You know the "bangs" that keep popping up throughout the book? Well, the next few paragraphs, are full of "bangs."
  • Madame Carlota tells Macabéa everything that she could possibly want to hear: that she will not be fired, that Olímpico will come back and ask her to marry him, better yet, that a rich and loving foreigner named Hans will come into her life (someone with "eyes that could be blue or green or brown or black") and he will be the one she will marry.
  • Uh-huh. Also you will meet a tall, dark stranger on a long voyage by water.
  • Macabéa is overwhelmed with all of this, and she believes it all. She wants to have hope in her future. Seriously, after the hard life she has had, can we really blame her?
  • Macabéa is happy, confused, and optimistic all at the same time.
  • Before leaving Madame Carlota, Macabéa gives her big kiss on the cheek. And why not? After all, Madame Carlota gave her the "sense that her life was suddenly taking a turn for the better" (5.413).
  • But it's super sad to learn that maybe this was the only kiss that Macabéa has ever given. When she was a little girl, she had no one to kiss, so she would kiss and embrace the wall.
  • Macabéa leaves Madame Carlota's place and stands outside in bewilderment and wonder.
  • She's transformed: "A person enriched with a future. She felt within a hope more fierce than any anguish she had ever known. … Everything suddenly became so abundant and overwhelming. Macabéa felt like weeping. But she didn't weep: her eyes glistened like the setting sun" (5.416).
  • Then: Macabéa steps off the curb, into the street, and a huge yellow Mercedes runs her over.
  • Our reluctant narrator debates back and forth whether Macabéa should die or not.
  • Well, obviously, she is slowly dying.
  • As she lies bleeding on the side of the road, bleeding from her head, she observes the grass sprouting from a gutter.
  • The narrator tells us that she had thought, "today is the dawn of my existence; I am born" (5.421).
  • Well, that's a little ironic.
  • Our main character is dying on the side of the road. Perfect time for some philosophizing, don't you think? The narrator sure does.
  • So, truth. Does it exist? Or not?
  • Oh, meanwhile it's raining, Macabéa is dying, and no one is doing anything but standing around gawking.
  • But as Macabéa is lying on the ground and slowly dying, she seems to become more and more "transformed into a Macabéa, as if she were arriving at herself" (5.432).
  • The narrator, in a desperate desire to choose life, proclaims that Macabéa is still alive and that "the hour has not come for the film-star Macabéa to die" (5.438).
  • Well, a tourniquet or band-aid or something along those lines might help.
  • Macabéa manages to get into a fetal position. You guys, this is really sad.
  • She feels the "warmth of supreme happiness, for she had been born for death's embrace" (5.441).
  • Mysterious as always, the narrator tells us that Death is his favorite character in the story.
  • Macabéa says her last words: "As for the future" (5.443).
  • And now feels like vomiting something luminous, "a star with a thousand pointed rays" (5.444).
  • Pretty sure that's a symbol of some sort.

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