The Hour of the Star
by Clarice Lispector
The Hour of the Star Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Like every writer, I am clearly tempted to use succulent terms: I have at my command magnificent adjectives, robust nouns, and verbs so agile that they glide through the atmosphere as they move into action. For surely words are actions? (1.16)
The narrator boasts about his ability as a writer. But he knows he has to control language in order to best capture Macabéa and her life. What's funny is that the other person we hear boast about his power like this is Olímpico—and he just ends up dropping Macabéa on her head.
Yet I have no intention of adorning the word, for were I to touch the girl's bread, that bread would turn to gold—and the girl (she is nineteen years old) the girl would be unable to bite into it, and consequently die of hunger. So I must express myself simply in order to capture her delicate and shadowy existence. (1.16)
Since the story of Macabéa is not so ornate or elegant, the words the narrator chooses to tell her story shouldn't be either. If he used fancy words, he'd be betraying her—literally (or, well, figuratively) killing her in some way.
Coming back to myself: what I am about to write cannot be assimilated by minds that expect much and crave sophistication. For what I am about to express will be quite stark. Although it may have as its background—even now—the tormented shadows that haunt my dreams as I sleep tormented at night. Do not, therefore, expect stars in what follows for nothing will scintillate. (1.20)
This might seem like the narrator's making excuses for not being able to get started with the story, but notice that he uses the image of the star—which shows up in the story more than once. So, maybe the story is full of stars after all.