The main characters in Spidertown either strive to be like their fathers or struggle to be different. Firebug became an arsonist because his father revered fire, forced him to leap flames at community barbecues, and punished him by burning parts of his body. Amelia’s “masculinity” is at least partly an attempt to earn her father’s respect and love. She tries to be the son he always wanted. Cristalena is a victim of her father’s religious fanaticism. She rebels successfully against his effort to make her “a little child of Christ,” but she cannot completely liberate herself from his terrifying sermons on sin. Miguel reads voraciously because his father hated books. Spider strives to be the antithesis of his father, who plays dominoes outside the neighborhood market. Spider’s ambition is a rejection of his father’s mundane existence as well as a desperate quest for excitement and purpose in life.
The most corrupt characters, such as Spider and Firebug, have become insensitive to the suffering around them. Firebug contemplates Miguel’s bruises with stolid curiosity. He is incapable of feeling sympathy for a friend or love for a woman. Interested only in business, Spider betrays his associates coldly, without remorse. Other characters such as Amelia and Miguel are soft because of their compassion. Though she has learned to use people, Amelia still cares. Miguel, too, has too much heart to become a hardened criminal. He shows...
(The entire section is 524 words.)