The stories in Family Ties are structured around an experience of epiphany. A single character, almost always female, has her normal, comfortable (and usually socially acceptable and domestic) existence shaken by what often seems to the reader to be an insignificant event (such as the sight of a blind man chewing gum in “Love”). This event destroys the stable lifestyle she has known and takes her to a new level of awareness concerning her own life in particular and, frequently, life in general. Though it is significant that the characters achieve a new awareness concerning their existence, it is equally significant, as some critics (Rita Herman and Marta Peixoto) have pointed out, that most of the characters return to their everyday existence without converting their temporary state of heightened awareness into a permanent metaphysical leap (as Herman calls it). To make such a leap would be either impossible on a societal level (for a woman in particular) or simply too frightening on an existential level (perhaps plunging the character into the “danger of living” to which Lispector refers in “Love”).
Hand in hand with the concept of epiphany in the stories in Family Ties, both with respect to the nature of the stories themselves and to the reputation the stories enjoy among both readers and critics, is the language and style with which they are written. Lispector’s subjective, lyrical prose, replete with metaphor and...
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