Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The reader is left to ponder what God, Little Flower, Marcel Pretre, and the author are about. Clearly, the significance of the story does not lie in the story line. The action is so minimal as to qualify it for the designation “antistory.” However, this lack of action is typical of the stories of Clarice Lispector and does not constitute an oversight or flaw in the construction of the narrative. She has a purpose to her writing that is far more important to her than recounting the adventures of fictional characters: The story exists as a vehicle through which to demonstrate her philosophical convictions.

Lispector, a thoroughgoing existentialist, explores in her stories the pain of ambiguity experienced by her fictional characters. Trivial moments generate confrontations with self-discovery that are wrenchingly sad, revealing to the characters their weakness in fearing freedom and the absurdity of human existence. The very triviality of the event, coupled with its profound impact, lends a grotesque incongruity to the moment and generates a flash of insight into the existentialist ambiguity of the human condition, which has been labeled the Absurd.

Marcel Pretre, explorer, hunter, and man of the world, moves from civilized, conventional surroundings into the equatorial jungle. This journey takes him into a setting of lush, rampant vegetation, where the jungle, the humidity, and the heat suggest the pervasive force of nature as one explores more and more deeply within the uncivilized jungle, and symbolically within the human personality....

(The entire section is 639 words.)