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The Hour of the Star

The Hour of the Star

by Clarice Lispector

Sadness Theme

It's tempting to feel sad for Macabéa. She's hungry, sickly, ugly, and ignored. Totally sad, right? But she doesn't see it that way. So one of the questions The Hour of the Star asks is whether or not it's really okay to feel sad for someone else. See, there's something a little condescending about feeling sad for someone who doesn't feel sad for herself. And who's to say that there aren't people out there right now feeling sad for you? These are questions of perception, which, as it turns out, is something that Existentialism is super interested in. Can Macabéa actually make her own reality by being happy? Or is she actually sad without knowing it?

Questions About Sadness

  1. How is that Macabéa could be unaware of her own unhappiness? Is she really happy? Or is she really unhappy? And is she really as indifferent as she seems?
  2. Are the other characters in the book sad? If so, how is their sadness expressed?
  3. Does the narrator want us to feel sad? Can you tell what kind of emotion this book is supposed to evoke?

Chew on This

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

Macabéa is the only person in the book who isn't miserable.

Happiness and sadness are simply states of mind; they have nothing to do with what happens to you.

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