Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 341
The Hour of the Star is a 1977 novel by Brazilian novelist and short story writer Clarice Lispector. After its commercial success, the novel was adapted into a movie in 1986 and published in English in 1992 and 2001.
Narrated by the wealthy and urban writer Rodrigo S.M., The Hour of the Star tells the story of Macabéa, a nineteen-year-old girl from northeast Brazil who lives in extreme poverty in Rio de Janeiro. Her main goal in life is to find her next meal and survive another day in a society that doesn't really care about people like her. Despite her tragic life, however, Macabéa is free-spirited and quite content with who she is and what she has, and this is only because she's not aware that she should actually be unhappy and miserable.
Lispector incorporates several socially relevant and philosophical themes, such as the complexity of human nature, poverty, love, hope, infidelity, death, self-discovery, the quest for one's identity, and people's ability to adapt and survive.
Another important element of the novel is its title, as it symbolizes not only Macabéa's fate but also all of our fates; we are all the main stars of our own life stories, and we will undoubtedly shine the brightest when we realize our true purpose. Interestingly enough, the novel actually has thirteen titles, all of which share a similar existentialist meaning (you can find these titles in the book itself, just before chapter 1).
The Hour of the Star is the last novel that Lispector wrote, and it was published posthumously, in the same year as her death. It received generally positive reviews, and many of Lispector's fellow authors and literary critics praised the novel for its simple, yet captivating and honest narrative, as well as its multidimensional characters. In fact, many readers argue that, through her characters, Lispector doesn't only tell the story of this poor and unfortunate girl: she also encourages people to be more humane and compassionate, and to acknowledge the fact that there are countless other Macabéas out there.