How is the theme of gender identity portryaed in Puig's novel-version of Kiss of the Spider Woman?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that gender identity is portrayed as something that can be malleable.  The way in which one sees themselves in terms of their gender association is not something entirely fixed.  It is not static.  Consider that Molina's real name is "Molino."  His movement of the "-a" at the end of his name at the cost of the "-o"is reflective of a gender switch, moving to the feminine at the cost of the masculine.  Molina understands that his own conception of gender is something that can change, and that being born one way is not something that remains fixed.  Molina's occupation as a window dresser is also reflective of how gender identity is constantly "under construction" for both ourselves and others.  Even Valentin, who comes across as the stereotypical political male to start the drama, moves into a different identity in gender as he becomes Molina's lover.  This helps to bring out the idea that gender identity is fluid and is not fixed.  The way in which one sees themselves in terms of gender is not something decided by the external world, but rather is something that one can envision as part of one's own subjectivity.  This recognition becomes critical, in that one's own view of oneself in terms of gender is something embraced or something that is acknowledged by the individual.

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Kiss of the Spider Woman

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