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.
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.