Form and Content
The Apple in the Dark is an allegory of the human condition. More specifically, it is the story of one man’s struggle to create a new identity. Just as Martim, the protagonist, seems about to realize his goal, however, he loses his courage and chooses to reassume the comfortable though shallow and inauthentic identity that he had originally possessed. In his quest for a new identity, Martim’s relationships with two women are of primary importance. The dissection of the psychological and philosophical aspects of the feminine consciousness in the novel gives the work a “feminist” dimension.
In this complex lyrical novel, structural design is of primary importance; the traditional roles of action, plot, dialogue, and characterization are relegated to lower levels of significance. Clarice Lispector creates a structure composed basically of images (appearing in isolation as well as in patterns) in the atmospheric world in which Martim moves. Martim is a self-reflective, passive wanderer who is constantly acted upon by the bewildering maze of objects and presences which seemingly envelop him.
Instead of a traditional plot involving a carefully calculated sequence of cause-and-effect actions proceeding logically toward a resolution, the tedious, often regressive and erratic thought processes and relationships of the three protagonists constitute the fundamental focus and fascination of the work. The author transforms her characters’ thoughts, emotional turmoil, and life experiences into essentially silent and associational stream-of-consciousness...
(The entire section is 647 words.)