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The Hour of the Star

The Hour of the Star

by Clarice Lispector

Life, Consciousness, and Existence Theme

Yeah, this is a biggie. It might even be the biggest on all of Shmoop, and this in a book that's less than 100 pages. And we start off right away, because the first sentences of The Hour of the Star are "Everything in the world began with a yes. One molecule said yes to another molecule and life was born" (1.1). As the narrator explores Macabéa's sad, miserable life, he gets us wondering about the meaning of life and purpose of existence and the way that we think about our own lives. So, yeah. Welcome to the big leagues, Shmoopers.

Questions About Life, Consciousness, and Existence

  1. How does the narrator use Macabéa's story to address these big ideas? If Macabéa "merely exists, inhaling and exhaling, inhaling and exhaling" (3.47), then how could her life provide any insight into questions of consciousness and existence?
  2. Does the book answer any of the questions it poses? Why or why not? What kind of answers might you be able to take away?
  3. How do we make sense of Macabéa's death at the end? What does her death say about existence and life? Is there no point? Is life simply meaningless?

Chew on This

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

Rodrigo's tangents are not distractions from Macabéa's story. They are actually the real story, and Macabéa's story is just an example of those themes working in the real world.

Macabéa's apparently pointless death teaches us that we should live and die like her: with simplicity, spiritual purity, and grace.

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