Kiss of the Spider Woman: Chapter Notes - Chapter 3



·         Molina recounts a Nazi propaganda film which he particularly enjoyed to Valentin.

·         This chapter only includes the first section of the film; set during the Nazi invasion of France, it depicts the Nazis as the saviours of Europe (being a propaganda film this is obviously the case). In the film, a French showgirl who is in love with a Nazi commander is murdered (we do not know yet who kills her or why), and the only other actress (who happens to be the leading act) who knows about the relationship is questioned by police concerning the girl’s death.  This girl, Leni, has been receiving flowers from a mysterious source after every show, and they later turn out to be coming from Werner, another German military officer, who she consequently has a relationship with.

·         When they are not discussing the film, Molina and Valentin discuss the man with whom Molina is in love; a young waiter outside of jail. Molina tells Valentin the reasons why he loves this man, and how this man is unfortunately, completely straight – and married. When Molina tried to instigate a relationship with said man, the man showed no interest whatsoever, and it was Molina who had to start up conversation and a relationship even on a ‘friends-only’ level.



Themes & Motifs:

Constructed nature of texts & reality

The fact that the film being recounted in this chapter is a propaganda film is important because it shows that it is even further detached from reality than other films and stories, because the image that it portrays of the Nazi’s is completely untrue, as we all know very well, and Valentin vocalises this issue during the text.


Filling in gaps

We are left with a lot to think about when it comes to the relationship with Molina and his waiter, as we do not really know that much about it, and we have to decide for ourselves if it is sinister or not, and if he has done anything similar before, or if a similar event could have landed him in jail.


Ambiguity / Uncertainty

This is not made so obvious as in some previous chapters, however the fact that we are not able to finish the film and find out what happens, and the fact that there are still a number of unknowns concerning Molina’s waiter add to the uncertainty in the story... as the story progresses, rather than answering questions about the two characters we simply think of more to ask.


Power and control

We can see that the two men are definitely not in control of their lives, mainly due to the fact that they are in jail, but they cannot even control simple things – “[The guards] shut the lights off in here so early”. In the film, the French are not in control of their country and are forced to live under Nazi rule, although this is portrayed as extremely comfortable by the film because it is a propaganda film in favour of the Nazis, we still know that the French have not been invaded voluntarily. Molina, about Leni “The most divine woman you can imagine”. This quote is important because it is imperative to the Nazi propaganda. It shows that the Nazi officers can have the most beautiful women from all over the world. The Nazi officer, the hero, would obviously be with the most attractive woman imaginable, as it adds to his ‘achievement’ in the eyes of other men, and makes the Nazis seem greater.


Fantasy & escapism

The most notable example of fantasy and escapism in this chapter is Molina’s relationship with the waiter. The waiter is completely straight, however, Molina fantasises openly about a relationship with him, a married heterosexual man, even kidding himself that they might live together and Molina could help him study and get a better job. Escapism is a major theme in the entire text, illustrated by the constant storytelling and trying to escape mentally from the jail in which they are forced to stay. The films are Molina’s way of escapism, and as we see in earlier chapters he emphasises with “the heroine, always the heroine”, as this allows him to be a woman, and to be with a man. Notably, he is impartial to the political context of this film, as he is almost ‘blinded’ by love, and his viewing of the film only takes into context the love story of the film.


Gender roles and sexuality

In the story, men are once again portrayed as the stronger sex; Leni asks the German officer if she can stay at his apartment because she is scared of staying alone that night, which serves to highlight the stereotype of men protecting women and women being weak and vulnerable. Masculinity is described by Molina as being strong, and walking tall and by Valentin as being your own man, and not being ordered around by authority, also in a sense, being strong. Femininity is not allowed a definition here as it is not as important, but it is made obvious through the film that to be feminine is to be beautiful and to be subservient to men. Page 56, Molina breaks down into tears when Valentin calls the film “Junk”. This is significant because it shows a stereotypical view of women being overly sensitive and pathetic, and highlights how ‘un-masculine’ Molina is.

“You’re all so good when it comes to defending each other” Page 59, Molina, about Men. This shows how men stick together against women and, again, highlights Molina’s femininity. It shows that men sneak around behind women, deceiving them etc.



Freedom or rather, the lack of it is an important theme in this chapter. The waiter is tied down to a dead-end job and he cannot change his shift in order to visit Molina in jail, where he and Valentin are most certainly not free (being imprisoned as they are). In the film, Paris is not free either, as it has been invaded by the Germans and they are imposing their rule upon the French people.


Betrayal and Lies

For starters, the entire film is a lie. It is a propaganda film and as such does not paint a true picture of life in France after the German invasion. As such, the first part of this chapter is a complete lie. Molina feels betrayed when he discovers that his waiter sleeps naked with his wife every night, even though there is nothing between them.