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Themes

Whether it is being starved by hunger, abused by her aunt, criticized by her boss, berated by her boyfriend, rejected by a frustrated doctor, or dying alone by a gutter in the cold rain, Macabéa's life seems, well, less than awesome. No wonder she's in pain all the time. She can't explain it, but we can—it's called suffering. Lots and lots of it. And The Hour of the Star (not to mention us) wants to know why.

Questions About Suffering

  1. What are the different ways that Macabéa suffers in the novella? What about the narrator? How might you compare them?
  2. Does the text seem to think that suffering is good or bad? What about the people in the story who are actually suffering—are their viewpoints different from the perspective of the narrator/author?
  3. Macabéa dies alone, as always. Does this suggest that we each suffer alone? Are there moments when you see people helping each other?

Chew on This

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

Lispector suggests that suffering can lead to a state of grace.

Macabéa's ignorance protects her, because it keeps her from recognizing how much she has suffered throughout her life.

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