Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Clarice Lispector’s Family Ties is a collection of thirteen stories, six of which had been published in a previous collection, Alguns Contos, in 1952. Like much of Lispector’s fiction, and particularly her early stories, these tales are intense and sharply focused narratives in which a single character (almost always female) is suddenly and dramatically forced to deal with a question concerning an integral part of her existence. Save for a single act that prompts each story’s character to look inward, there is little action in the stories, as the author seeks not to develop a traditional, action-filled plot but instead to capture a moment in the character’s life and, much more important, the character’s reaction to that moment, as she (and occasionally he) is shocked out of complacency and forced into a situation that will lead her to self-examination and, in most cases, self-discovery. The epiphany-centered content of the stories, combined with Lispector’s subjective, highly metaphorical, even lyrical prose, produces a collection of stories that read and communicate to the reader more like poetry than prose.

Arranged in no apparent particular order within the collection, the stories that make up Family Ties are “The Daydreams of a Drunken Woman,” “Love,” “The Chicken,” “The Imitation of the Rose,” “Happy Birthday,” “The Smallest Women in the World,” “The Dinner,” “Preciousness,”...

(The entire section is 598 words.)