What are themes in Manuel Puig's Kiss of the Spider Woman that are consistent with works from Latin America?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one of the themes that is evident in Puig's work that fits into the larger scope of Latin American literature is the struggle between what is and what should be.  From the time of Cervantes' construction of Don Quixote and Sancho, Latin American literature has demonstrated a fundamental struggle of consciousness between both polarities.  We are seemingly poised in the midst of a world where there is Sancho and Quixote, finding ourselves wishing to be one when we are another.  Puig's drama brings this out in that the relationship between Valentin and Molina is one in which both characters embody the Sancho/ Quixote dynamic at different points.  At the same time, another Latin American element that is featured in the drama is the fundamental struggle against authority.  Both Valentin and Molina are immersed in the most basic fight against authoritarian structures.  This is something evident in Latin American literature, both within and outside of Colonial rule.  In this, there is a clear continuance of a Latin American tradition in expressing how the voice of the individual is poised against an authority structure that wishes to deny it.

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