Kiss of the Spider Woman: Chapter Notes - Chapter 8




·         The reader is able to view the official report addressed to the Warden with regards to Molina and Valentin. Within the report the reader finally learns the real names of the prisoners as well as the official reasons for arrest and their conduct.

·         The reader learns of the relationship between Molina and the guard through which they have made a deal; in return for Molina giving information to the Warden in relation to Valentin, Molina will receive a pardon. However, the exact nature of the information required by the Warden is unknown.

·         On page 57 Valentin foreshadowed that there was someone else who came to visit Molina. This is discovered when Molina meets with the Warden.

·         Molina’s mother is once again mentioned. It is discovered that her health is improving due to the possibility of Molina being released.

·         In addition the reader ascertains that the rice had been poisoned which gave both Molina and Valentin food poisoning. It is established that Molina had to knowingly eat the poisoned rice the first time in order to avoid any suspicion.

·         Molina does feel some sympathy for Valentin as he requests for the poisoning of the food to be stopped.

·         Furthermore, to avoid suspicion over his euphoria, in relation to a possible pardon, the Warden suggests that Molina tells Valentin that Molina’s mother visited in order to explain his absence. This therefore allows Molina to request much needed supplies.



Motifs and Connotations:

Betrayal and Lies

One of the most obvious motifs within this chapter is betrayal and lies. This motif is witnessed throughout this chapter as the reader learns of the betrayal of Molina. Essentially, the reader learns of this betrayal through phrases such as ‘Arregui couldn’t possibly suspect anything’ and ‘have you learned something already’ (page 149). However, the exact nature of the information required is unknown. On pages 149 and 150, the immense scale of this betrayal is evident as the Warden states that there is a ‘possibility of a pardon’. When Molina asks ‘Really?’, the Warden replies ‘Of course, Molina, what would you expect?’ once again indicating the magnitude of the betrayal. The reason for this betrayal is also obvious as the reader learns of the ‘possibility of a pardon’ which would in turn allow Molina to see his dying mother. In addition, betrayal and lies are also present in relation to the poisoning of the food. This is due to the fact that Molina knowingly let Valentin eat the poisoned rice in order to weaken Valentin physically. Furthermore this motif is present on page 151 when the Warden asks ‘How are you going to explain this visit?’ and a plan is initiated to ‘tell him that [Molina’s] mother came.’ This chapter is a key moment for the motif ‘betrayal and lies’ as it is when we first learn of Molina’s betrayal. The introduction of this motif shows a clear change in the plot and the relationship between Molina and Valentin as well as a definite change in the way that we, the reader, view, respond and associate with Molina.


Doubles or being two things

Prior to this chapter the reader has seen Molina as a mother figure that has cared for Valentin. However, an immediate change in the reader’s perception of Valentin can be witnessed in Chapter 8. Here, Molina is perceived as a betrayer, liar and essentially a traitor. This is evident through the use of phrases such as ‘Arregui couldn’t possibly suspect anything’ and ‘have you learned something already’. On the other hand, Molina illustrates that he still cares for Valentin when he states that ‘it’s probably a good idea to let him begin to recover now’ (page 150). This motif is essential in the development of the plot as it depicts a transformation in Molina’s character.


Feminine Females vs. ‘Real Men’

Within chapter 8, Molina displays the characteristics of a feminine female which is juxtaposed with the Warden who is seen as a ‘real’ man. His trembling when he first meets with the guard on page 149 as well as when he cries (at the top of page 150) after hearing of a possible pardon, illustrate some of the feminine qualities he has. On the other hand, the Warden is seen as a ‘real’ man due to his status in society which is determined by his job however furthermore by the power he has over Molina. For example, on page 149 he states ‘stop your trembling’ and ‘weigh your words’ on page 151. The introduction of the Warden allows for an additional example of a ‘real’ man which can be juxtaposed with the feminine traits exhibited by Molina.



The character of Molina’s mother once again comes into play within this chapter. Molina’s mother has been seen to be in a very weak and fragile position throughout the book and has been increasingly reliant on Molina. Her reliance on Molina is seen in this chapter when the Warden states on page 150 that ‘it seems your mother is feeling a lot better, since he spoke to her  about the possibility of a pardon…she’s practically a new person’. However Molina’s reliance on his mother is also evident as he relies on her for supplies. We see Molina abusing his power by using his mother when he gives an obviously exaggerated shopping list on page 153.


Gaps or Silences

As no narrator is present within the book, gaps and silences are portrayed using ellipses. These are used increasingly within this chapter in order to portray gaps and silences within the conversation between Molina and the Warden. At the top of page 150 the ellipses within the text show the hesitance as well as how uncomfortable the Warden is when Molina is crying.




Power and Control

The power and control that Molina wields over Valentin is now evident. Molina has control over Valentin as he is in the position to give the Warden information about Valentin which may have a negative effect on Valentin. Molina is given a great deal of power as he is ‘expect[ed] to know how to manage things’ (pg. 150). In addition Molina exercises his control over Valentin by forcing him to eat the prepared food the second time. However, his power can be questioned as he ‘had to eat the prepared food the first time’ (pg. 150). The power that Molina has over Valentin shows a shift in power as Valentin was once more powerful than Molina. The power that Molina has over Valentin is very little in comparison with that of the Warden. The Warden is seen to exercise his power over Valentin when he states, ‘Parisi is like a brother to me, and it was his interest that led us to come up with the present option, but Molina…we’re expecting you to know how to manage things’ (pg. 150). This quotation could be taken as a threat and emphasises the power the Warden holds over Molina. Furthermore, the Warden’s power over Molina is evident when, after Molina questions whether they should still be poisoning Valentin, he replies ‘weigh your words, my friend’ (pg. 151). However, Molina attempts to use any power he may have over the Warden when he orders extra groceries on page 153.


Constructed nature of roles within society

The constructed nature of roles within society is evident through the power the Warden has. Due to his job the Warden automatically wields power over Molina (as illustrated above). The constructed nature of roles within society is also illustrated by the fact that the Warden and Molina are referred to by their roles. For example the Warden is referred to as ‘Warden’ and Molina is referred to as ‘Prisoner’. This depicts the way in which society classifies people by their jobs or roles.


Interweaving of Different text types

In addition there is an interweaving of different text types within chapter 8. The footnote beginning on page 151 is a further extract from a scientific report based on homosexuality. This report flows continuously as different sections throughout the book. Indeed, a further text type is introduced as the interaction between the Warden and Molina is written as a play; with the name of a character and then their speech. This differentiates this chapter from any prior chapter and emphasises its contents. There is also the use of the prison reports.




The phrase ‘weigh your words’ evokes an image of a scale. This illustrates that he should weigh the consequences of his words in order to see which way his words are going to tip the balance. This in turn emphasises the fact that the Warden is in charge as opposed to Molina.




Essentially within chapter 8 we discover a new side to Molina’s personality. Molina was previously seen as a caring mother figure; however in this chapter we see him as a traitor as he is prepared to give up Valentin’s secrets and possibly his freedom in return for his own release. This illustrates greed and also limits the amount that the reader would trust Molina due to his betrayal. The sympathy that the reader may have previously had with Molina would certainly decrease. Molina’s decision to betray Valentin will not only have an immense impact on Valentin but on Molina as well, due to the fact that he has to carry around the guilt and consequences of his decision.


Despite the fact that Valentin does not appear in this chapter, the reader may still feel an increased amount of sympathy towards him due to Molina’s betrayal. Valentin is seen as naïve and innocent within this chapter, which causes the reader to worry about the consequences of the betrayal. The betrayal is set to have a vast impact on him and we could predict that it may extend his sentence or set him up in some way.


The introduction of the Warden adds a further dimension to the story and as he is a ‘real’ man we are able to juxtapose him with Molina.




The entire book is set in a Buenos Aires prison however within this chapter we enter the Warden’s office. Although the reader is not given any details about the Warden’s office, a sense of entrapment is still created by the fact that Molina seems to be trapped in his deal with the Warden and is being forced to essentially spy on Molina for an early release.



Narrative Style/Structure:

Prior to this chapter the book has been written as chronological dialogue between the two speakers without any narrator. However, in this chapter the dialogue is written as a play; with the name of a character and then their speech. This differentiates this chapter from any prior chapter and emphasises its contents. The reader is still forced to fill in many of the details themselves. For example, we are not aware that the prisoner is Molina until halfway down page 149. In addition it is unknown the exact nature of the required information. This chapter foreshadows many future meetings between the Warden and Molina.



Relation of Part to Whole (Development)

Ultimately, chapter 8 could be defined as one of the pivotal moments in Kiss of the Spider Woman. This is due to the fact that within this chapter everything changes. We see a development in the character of Molina which many could perceive as something negative. We also see a change in the narrative style. All of these changes foreshadow future events and put Valentin and Molina’s relationship in grave danger.