The Hour of the Star
How we cite our quotes:
Who has not asked himself at some time or other: am I a monster or is this what it means to be a person? (1.17)
This is hands down one of the coolest lines in the book. It speaks to that secret fear that we all have that we're actually not like other people at all—that all our bad thoughts and feelings make us into something subhuman or monstrous. Or, you know, maybe that's just us.
For the question 'Who am I?' creates a need. And how does one satisfy the need? To probe oneself is to recognize that one is incomplete. (1.18)
The thing about asking questions is that, if you have to ask, you know that there's something (like a clear answer) missing. But does the answer even exist? If we're just going by this book, we'd have to go with no.
The dark, tarnished mirror scarcely reflected any image. Perhaps her physical existence had vanished? This illusion soon passed and she saw her entire face distorted by the tarnished mirror; her nose had grown as huge as those false noses made of paper mâché donned by circus clowns. She studied herself and mused: so young and yet so tarnished. (3.50)
So, this is basically the experience you have when you look in a fun house mirror and see yourself all distorted. But we have to ask: since we already know that Macabéa never thinks about herself, how could she possibly think that she looks "tarnished"? We're starting to suspect that the narrator is putting a lot of words into her mouth.