Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Jorge Amado has developed his work, he says, “around the reality of Brazil, discussing the country’s problems, touching on the dramatic existence of the people and their struggle.” Imprisoned as a member of the Communist Party in 1935, Amado was exiled on two occasions; in 1937, after a national ban, his books were burned in a plaza by the Brazilian military.

“The Miracle of the Birds” is representative of the author’s writing after 1958, which followed his break with the Communist Party in 1955. Although his focus remained the lives of the marginal classes, grim examinations of their plight yielded to humorous and highly sensual works. According to some critics, Amado tempered his social criticism with satire, irony, and ribald comedy. Others contend that Amado’s commitment to social reform inevitably dissolved into a greater passion, that is, indulging in the local color and exotic mix of peoples and cultures in his native region of northeastern Brazil.

This passion links Amado with Modernism, which dominated Brazilian literature and art beginning in the 1920’s. Modernism was less a cohesive “school” than a movement rejecting European influences and finding inspiration in the “real” Brazil, that is, in the backlands of the Northeast. A product of Modernism, the consciously “regional” novel became a staple of northeastern writers, probably based on the belief that the culture of this region was enriched by the...

(The entire section is 478 words.)