Kiss of the Spider Woman: Chapter Notes - Chapter 10




·         Valentin wakes up feeling better after not eating prison food and Molina’s “mother’s” food. 

·         Valentin fails to study. Molina prepares lunch and continues with story of the zombies on the island.

·         The housekeeper reveals truth about the husband’s childhood, his father was owner of a banana plantation and exploited workers.

·         The witch doctor killed them with special poison, creating zombies. The husband killed the zombies after father died but the witch doctor blackmailed his wife causing the husband to find her cheating on him and killed her. The husband then allowed the zombies to work after promise of keeping this secret by witch doctor about murder of his first wife.

·         The housekeeper was former wife of witch doctor

·         The wife and majordomo go looking for husband in the forest.

·         The story stops when wife hears singing and chanting of the voodoo tribe

·         The thoughts of Molina and Valentin break constantly into the story interrupting it

·         Valentin wakes up and Molina surprises him with marble cake

·         Valentin becomes angry because Molina is taking too much care of him. He knocks over the kerosene, tea, plate etc. making Molina become quiet while Valentin apologizes, and retrieves water for Molina in order to make it up to him.



Themes and Motifs:

Relationship between Molina and Valentin

·            Relationship between them appears to be closer now than at the beginning of story as both of them open up to one another more- Molina about his mother [“You know, with my mom, poor dear…”] and Valentin’s relaxation around Molina [“No because you’ll start laughing”]

·            Though it appears to be close at first, Molina is still fake and deceptive as he lies about his mother’s visit and lawyer’s proposition for a good conduct let out.  [“… my lawyer today, and my mom’ll probably show up with him like usual…”]

·            You could see that Valentin needs Molina more than he needs him. He avoids the comment about Molina being paid a visit by her lawyer about him getting out of prison [“Say if I get out…who knows what you’ll wind up with for a cellmate”- “Have you had your breakfast Molina?”]. He doesn’t want to acknowledge the fact that he actually depends slightly upon Molina’s care during his sickness and brushes off the thought by avoiding it.

·            Though appear to be closer, Valentin is still aware of Molina’s homosexuality and thus is still pretty stiff about it. [“So look the other way will you? You make me feel self-conscious… ”] He is also still secretive about his political activities, even though he has told Molina about his romantic life [“Nothing. Political stuff” “Boy are you communicative…”]

·         “I’m sorry… Molina please forgive my dam temper…And please forgive me honestly?” In comparison to the beginning when Valentin hasn’t soften and become close to Valentin, if any kind of argument, he wouldn’t be begging or asking repetitively for forgiveness from Molina. Valentin gives his argument during the beginning of the novel in fights of why he said mean things, but here, he doesn’t defend himself but rather assumes he is in the wrong, which shows relationship is more meaningful and closer in Valentin’s opinion. (pg. 194)


Uncertainty and Confusion

·         Throughout Molina’s story, there are thoughts that interrupt it from both Molina himself and Valentin as well about their personal lives. This creates confusion and uncertainty about their lives as the readers read bits and pieces of their scrambled thoughts. Valentin’s thoughts seem to be the most confusing as it just lists animals and then suddenly switches to about a girl whom is suppose to in church.

·         Valentin describes-thought form- about a girl being guillotined-we are unsure whether this is from a personal experience or news he heard through letters from his comrades. [“…who gave the order to have her guillotined? The learned executioner obeys an order which comes from no one knows where…”]

·         Puig presents the characters’ thoughts scrambled and chopped up to obviously point out to us about how unrealistic most novels structure it and how we usually fill in the gaps ourselves.


Power and Superiority

·         At first, Molina is in control as he forcefully pushes Valentin to have some tea for his sake; even though Valentin refuses, he eventually accepts, giving Molina the power. [“You have to learn to accept from people too, you know. And anyhow, why be so complicated?” “Okay, then”] - Valentin gives in with no choice and a lost argument.

·         From the beginning until the end, Molina is overall in control of Valentin. He is the one who is telling him the story that Valentin is interested and curious about.

·         Valentin, [I think] tries to regain some control as he refuses to do what Molina tells him and causes an accidentà where food and lamp spills. The power is then switched to Molina as he is the one whom is hurt while Valentin tries to apologize to him and make him forgive him.


Political Propaganda

·               The short history of the husbands’ father and how he exploited the workers on the banana plantation relates to Valentin’s purpose in life.  [“…he came to the island to get himself rich and started off by treating his peons like dirt”]


Feminine Female Figures

·         The woman in the story is portrayed as the good wife who wants to protect her husband, but somehow does the opposite as she goes off to investigate the abandoned house to help cure her husband’s misery

·         The 1st wife of the husband is portrayed as the savior for the husband as she spared his life from the witch doctor. Though the husband might have seen her then as evil-the betrayer of him.

·         “But, hey, can’t I just coddle you a little bit?...” This emphasizes more that Molina relates and believe that he, himself is a woman who needs to take care of a man and is the ‘motherly figure’ between the two of them in the cell. (pg. 193)


Masculine Male Figures

·         The story is called the zombie woman, but in the story, the housekeeper tells the wife that there isn’t a zombie that is a girl (usually). This means that most of the zombies created were male figures since they were fit to be exploited for working on the banana plantation.

·         “Something on any healthy man, that’s all, especially when he first wakes up… and has a little energy in the morning”- Suggests Valentin is hinting or stating that he is healthy again; like a strong, macho man who doesn’t need any more nursing from his mom (Molina). Likes to acknowledge the fact that he is strong and in control once again, spirit alive and strong. (p. 182)

·         “But this is the last day  I allow any of this”- Suggests that Valentin is aware of how ‘weak’ (in his mind) he has become, being used to these delicious food and not dealing with the pain and giving in to comfort and happiness. This shows how he wants to return back to his normal routine of being strong and doing manly stuff and taking the pain like the alpha male. (pg. 193)





·         Molina continues to lie about his visits with the lawyer and his attempt to retrieve information from Valentin through his lies about his mother’s visit and food. We see a side of Molina which is still as romantic as ever as he continues on to Valentin about the zombie story. From his chopped up thoughts we are given a glimpse of his life or memory, outside prison, about some facility where people never come back after being nursed. Molina shows more care to Valentin about his health as he refuses coffee from the guard for Valentin and gives up his tea for him. We are also reminded about how much Molina is a girl and that they are extremely sensitive-as Valentin knocks the things over and Molina is hurt by his sudden harsh command.



·         In this chapter we see Valentin happier and less cynical as he recovers from his illness. He doesn’t insult Molina’s stories but rather asks her to continue on. [“What about the film? Give me a break…” and Molina’s response “You’re really into it, aren’t you? Admit it”]. Doesn’t like the fact someone is controlling his life- “I don’t like anybody running my life for me” and soon tries to regain the control back from Molina after Molina tries to ‘coddle’ him. We also see a weak, sort of caring side of him as he apologizes to Molina and tries to make him forgive him by fetching water-he is powerless.

·         “You have to learn to accept from people too, you know. And anyhow, why be so complicated?”- Constructive criticism from Molina (rare) and it is ever rarer that Valentin accepts it without presenting an argument to backfire. This shows that relationship between them has grown and developed to being close friends. (pg. 183)




The setting is still the same from previous chapters-set in a cell. The setting changes only when we read about Molina’s story of the zombie girl. He tells Valentin about the girl and the abandon house and the ‘thick jungle’ with the tribal village of voodoo people as well.



Narrative Style:

Puig style is the same like in the beginning of the novel; dialogues between Molina and Valentin. The story being told continues in one big paragraph, unless there is an interruption or a comment from the other person listening. The interrupted scrambled thoughts from both sides make the story a bit more confusing, but not new as we have seen this style in previous chapters.