Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Luis Alberto Molina
Luis Alberto Molina (lew-EES ahl-BEHR-toh moh-LEE-nah), a window dresser imprisoned for the corruption of a minor. Molina is a homosexual who views himself as a woman; he even refers to himself as a girl. He believes that in any relationship he has with a man, that man should be dominant, while Molina, as the female figure, should be passive. He has an exceptional memory for films, and he entertains and distracts Valentin by telling the story lines of romantic films that he has seen. Warmhearted and caring, Molina nurses Valentin, who becomes ill after eating the doctored prison food. Molina then cleverly prevents Valentin from eating the prison food by having the warden give Molina food as a cover for Molina’s absences from the cell. Even Molina’s efforts to be released from jail are not out of selfishness; he is concerned about his mother’s weak heart. At the same time, he cannot betray Valentin, whom he has come to love. It is Molina’s selflessness (and perhaps his need to die as a “heroine”) that leads him to sacrifice himself to Valentin’s revolution.
Valentin Arregui Paz
Valentin Arregui Paz (vah-lehn-TEEN ah-RREH-gee pahs), a revolutionary who is being held indefinitely as a political prisoner. Valentin is in many ways the exact...
(The entire section is 317 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Kiss of the Spider Woman Characters. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Themes / Characters
Through the two characters, Molina and Valentin, Puig presents a number of oppositions, many of which have appeared in previous novels. In particular, he draws the usual contrast between the sensitive, creative, effeminate character and the strong, coldly reserved man of action, in this case the solitary revolutionary who suppresses his desire for personal gratification for the sake of his political goals. Characteristically, Valentin pores over his political science books while Molina helps them both pass the time by telling stories from movies — the more fantastic, the better. Again the theme of escapism versus commitment to positive action surfaces together with the inevitable question of the role of the artist. As Molina relates one of his favorite films, a story that takes place in Nazi-occupied France, Valentin objects that it is an unconscionable piece of Nazi propaganda. If this fact has even occurred to Molina, it is not an issue that would hinder his enjoyment of the picture, for the romantic heroine appeals to his imagination. Thus, the important issue of the responsibility of art to represent truth and morality is raised, but not resolved.
Undoubtedly Molina, who arranges for clean sheets and exotic foods and who helps the hours pass quite pleasantly with his movie stories, represents a quality of imagination that makes life bearable. He gilds reality and transforms the prison cell into a haven. So what, one might ask, is wrong with...
(The entire section is 654 words.)
Valentin Arregui Paz
Valentin is a Marxist revolutionary, imprisoned for his political activism. His cellmate, Molina, is a homosexual window-dresser with no political convictions whatsoever. Valentin is at first disdainful of Molina because of his homosexuality. Nevertheless, Valentin is willing to listen to Molina's descriptions of some of his favorite classic Hollywood movies in order to pass the time. Valentin becomes increasingly tolerant of Molina, and after Molina selflessly cares for him during his illness, Valentin becomes increasingly emotionally attached to Molina. Eventually, Valentin, despite his initial anti-homosexual prejudices, becomes Molina's lover. When Molina is released from prison, Valentin asks him to pass important information on to his revolutionary comrades. Soon after Molina leaves, however, Valentin is severely beaten and tortured by the prison officials, who inflict third-degree burns on his body and his groin. While he is in the prison hospital ward, a clinician offers secretly to inject him with a strong dose of morphine in order to ease the pain. As the story ends, Valentin slips into a morphine-induced fantasy in which his former lover, Marta, takes him out of the prison and to a fantasy island in the sea.
Marta is Valentin's former lover, whom he renounced because she was from the upper classes and therefore considered the oppressive enemy against whom his political ideals caused him to...
(The entire section is 629 words.)