Kiss of the Spider Woman: Motif Tracking – Death






















Many words come to mind when the word “death” is mentioned. Some of which are already listed above, others, however aren’t. Words such as wars and illness have ties within the novel. An example of how illness is incorporated is when we the readers discover the conspiracy and apparent betrayal of Molina. When he had the conversation with the warden, the warden is quoted saying, “Was it helpful to have him weakened physically…” referring to how Valentin was purposefully fed contaminated rice. War is linked to Valentin’s revolutionary beliefs- the reason behind his imprisonment. Uncertainty plays a major role within this novel and it is open to many different interpretations. The use of ellipses further emphasises the ambiguity and vague agendas. Tears, in this novel is a sign of weakness. Molina begins to cry upon hearing about his mother’s health and Valentin’s portrayal



Quotations & Explanations:






“Her fingernails are longish, they’re painted almost black, and the fingers are white, until the cold begins to turn them slightly blue.”

The author uses colors in order to suggest a sense of death. Death is typically associated with dark colors like black, as well as paler colors such as blue and white.


“…the snow deadens every sound and noise.”

“She’s shivering, from cold or from fear…”

The author uses the environment and surrounds to create a somber and sinister atmosphere. Similarly, the novel takes place within a prison cell, representing entrapment and repression of their beliefs.


“…but she’s already ripped his throat open with her claws and the man’s already fallen to the floor with his blood gushing out.”

This brings into context the power women had. Similarly, Molina who supposedly assumes the role of the female, seemingly had more power in the beginning of the novel.


“They get out and find the dead panther.”

“Irena’s face is disfigured from the swipe of the claw. She’s dead.”

In the end of almost every one of Molina’s story, death seems inevitable. It is almost as if Molina is hoping to assume the role of the heroine in his story. There is a sense of foreboding on what is to become of Molina by the end of the story.


“…the car goes by with the accelerator floored, it runs her down.”

In Molina’s story, death is a common theme. The deaths are portrayed in an almost direct and blunt fashion.


“…but the clubfoot puts up a wild struggle and the kid sacrifices himself, hurling both of them into space…”

The sacrifice of the kid could possibly foreshadow events that are to come. We as readers know how Molina dreams about fulfilling the tragic role of a heroine who dies in the end.


“I kept missing you more and more and that’s why especially after the death of Uncle Pedro…”

We as readers are reminded of the world outside the prison cell by the death of a fellow revolutionist. Once again, it creates an impression that the cell is safer compared to the outside world.


“…black blood of asphyxiation gushing up in the mouth”

We learn about Valentin’s inner thoughts which contrast sharply with what he is actually saying. His thoughts are predominantly about the revolution and perhaps the moment of his capture. This could perhaps reflect on how Valentin’s will is breaking.


“…so it came to pass that after they were dead they were made to work…”

This is an extract from Molina’s story about zombies. It parallels to his life as similarly, he is “dead”, unable to act upon his own free will. Instead, like the zombies who were controlled by the witch doctor, he is controlled by the warden in order to obtain information from Valentin.


“But he manages to grab her by the wrist and seize the knife, and kill her with it…”

This part of the extract is taken when the woman tries to kill the witch doctor but fails. It could possibly represent Molina’s futile struggle to break free from the warden’s control. Or not.


“Of the wounded, Molina expired before arriving patrol unit could administer first aid.”

Molina’s death was known to us through the events recorded in the log book. It has a very detached feel to it as there were not much details. This could be Molina fulfilling his fantasy, to end as a tragic hero, dying for a purpose.


“…twenty-nine, thirty, thirty-one,,,”

In the last scene, there is a certain about of ambiguity about the state Valentin is in. One interpretation is that he is near death and unable to move but conscious. Another would be him in a drugged state, where someone is trying to obtain information from him as “Martha” seems to be asking very specific questions.



Key Moment:

The motif death does not play a central role within the novel. However, it does play a significant role within both the characters. Valentin is prepared to become a martyr for the revolution and is willing to remain in prison than to reveal information concerning his comrades. Molina, with his stories of movies, romanticizes about becoming the heroine and dying a tragic death in the end. An example to this would be on page 168 where we learn about Molina’s fantasy which ended tragically. You can say that in the end, Molina did fulfill his desire as a “martyr” which sounded similar to Valentin’s “Martha.”