Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Before writing this novel, Lispector had lived extensively outside her homeland of Brazil, in the United States and in European countries, and she had a cosmopolitan, nonsectarian outlook. In depicting G. H.’s epiphany, though Lispector draws on Christian imagery and citations available to her from her unbringing, she presents the situation nondenominationally. She translates religious terminology into a secular vocabulary. In G. H.’s moment of truth, the name of God frequently comes up, but “God,” G. H. explicitly states, is a word she is using to name the constantly emergent life force of the world, not a higher being attached to some religious creed. To someone like G. H., who has lived out of touch with nature and her own animal side, an awareness of this life force strikes with as much power as a religious revelation.

Part of the reason for Lispector’s desacralization of this experience is to remove it from its doctrinal trappings. Above all, she wants to bring spiritual exaltation down to earth and make it seem realizable for anyone. Through such techniques as the use of homely details and realistic characterization, Lispector strives to indicate that every person who has ever thirsted for a richer life has the potential to undergo a genuine rebirth. Stated obversely, the book argues that no one has the right to shrug off such intangible events as are captured in the volume, since every person is liable to vital renewal.


(The entire section is 479 words.)