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The Hour of the Star

The Hour of the Star

by Clarice Lispector

Identity Theme

Who am I? What am I doing here? Am I a monster? Where did I put my keys? Just a typical day, right? For all that these questions of identity are huge, paralyzing, and potentially life-altering, they're questions that we all ask ourselves. And if we don't—as Macabéa seems not to—then we risk being subhuman in some way. Even if we don't like the answers, they're questions we have to ask in order to live in the world authentically. (Hint: you're probably not a monster.)

Questions About Identity

  1. Several characters hide some aspect of themselves. Which characters are they, and what seem to be their motivations?
  2. Do any of the characters seem to have a clear and uncomplicated sense of their identities?
  3. According to The Hour of the Star, what need might the question "Who am I?" create? And why is it so difficult to answer?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

For all that she's ignorant and impoverished, Macabéa is the only one in the novella who truly knows herself.

Lispector suggests that we all face the central crisis of finding out who we are and why our existence matters.

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