| Quote #1
Happiness? I have never come across a more foolish word, invented by all of those unfortunate girls from north-eastern Brazil. (1.3)
According to Rodrigo, happiness is just a silly dream that all of these poor, foolish girls from north-eastern Brazil (presumably, this includes Macabéa) stupidly believe in. While Macabéa thinks that she is happy, everyone else thinks her life is miserable. But the real question here is: if these girls are happy, who are we to say that they're not?
| Quote #2
She found consolation in being sad. Not desperate, for she was much too modest and simple to indulge in despair, but that indefinable quality associated with romantics. (3.83)
Well, duh, being a little sad is totally hot. Not all-out depressed, of course. That's just, you know, sad.
| Quote #3
If the girl only knew that my own happiness stems from the deepest sorrow and that sorrow is an abortive form of happiness. (3.88)
The narrator suggests that sorrow and happiness are two sides of the same coin, and maybe this can help us understand why Macabéa considers herself happy. In the memorable words of a sleeper indie hit from 2006: "Sorrow is just worn-out joy."