Major Themes


Social Criticism

Kiss of the Spider Woman contains no direct social criticism but the sympathy established by the various forms of oppression suffered by both Valentin and Molina act as an indirect comment on Peronism and the increasingly tense political situation in 1970s Argentina,


Fantasy & Escapism

Alienated from the world in which they live both characters retreat into a more comfortable world of fairytales, fables or movies. Escape through fantasy, therefore acts as another form of social critique,



In the strictly catholic and ‘macho’ culture of Argentina, Puig’s open homosexuality was often criticized, and through his novels he raised this oppression of homosexuality as a social and political issue,


Social Roles as Constructs

Therefore, by pointing out how all social roles – male/female, straight/gay, criminal/political activist – are just constructs ‘made up’ by the particular group who happen to be in power he challenged the validity of these roles in Latin American / Argentinean society,


Challenges the Definition of Literature

In a similar way, his experimental writing style attempts to challenge our perceptions of what should count as art / not art, (like Andy Warhol’s ‘Pop Art’ of the 1960’s). As such his novel includes excerpts from movie scripts, scientific papers on homosexuality and police reports,


Ambiguity & Uncertainty

If all our values and ideas of what it is to be a man or woman, a criminal or a political activist, gay or straight are all just ‘constructs’ are all just ‘made up’ then that creates a lot of uncertainty about what the world is really like and indeed if the world is really like anything at all. Thus Puig fills his novels with uncertainty, ambiguity, doubles, betrayal and lies in order to underline this point,


Personal Desires vs. Political Duties

Puig also examines the tension between the world of personal desires, emotions, relationships and the world of political activism, ideology and responsibility.


Self Analysis

Finally, in his own words, Puig claims: ‘I write novels because there is something I don’t understand in reality. What I do is locate that special problem in a character and then try to understand it. That’s the genesis of all my work … It’s an analytical activity, not a synthetic one.’