The action of Dôra, Doralina is located in the consciousness of the protagonist Maria das Dores (nicknamed Dôra or Doralina) who broodingly remembers the pleasures and pains that she has experienced as a daughter, a wife, and an actress.
The novel’s first section revolves around Dôra’s bitter struggle with her mother, whom she always formally calls Senhora. A beautiful widow, Senhora tyrannically manages the family ranch, Soledade, while showing no love toward her daughter, and the depth of Dôra’s alienation is evidenced in many ways: through her deep sense of loss over the death of her beloved father, through her belief that she is her mother’s slave and that she has been dispossessed of her inherited share of the ranch, and through her desperate need to be loved.
This desire for love, however, seems to be realized when Laurindo Quirino, a handsome surveyor, enters Dôra’s life. Investing him with the aura of a film star, she sees Laurindo as a release from her emotionally stunted life on the ranch. Moreover, he becomes a way for Dôra to defeat her mother, especially since Senhora is also attracted to him. Thus, Dôra gloats: “I was twenty-two years old, she was forty-five—Laurindo married me.” This joy, though, soon sours as she realizes that he is a violent, morally hollow opportunist; the climax of this section occurs when Dôra discovers that he is having an affair with her mother. Dôra is shattered by this revelation, and her sense of imprisonment deepens—only lessening when her husband is killed in a mysterious hunting accident. Although Queiroz never completely explains this mystery, she implies that Laurindo is murdered by Raimundo Delmiro, a former bandit now living on the ranch and devoted to Dôra because she once saved his life.
No longer able to tolerate her mother, Dôra leaves the ranch and moves to the city. The second section of the novel describes how she increasingly escapes her haunted past. Whereas the claustrophobic first section is filled with images of death, imprisonment, and alienation, this part is a picaresque affirmation of the human spirit,...
(The entire section is 876 words.)