Kiss of the Spider Woman: Motif Tracking – Fantasy & Escapism




















Though it seems that the motifs of fantasy and escapism in ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’ are seen only in the movies and thoughts depicted throughout the book, it can in fact be said that all conversations between characters which were not linked to being in jail is a form of escapism. It is seen throughout the book that the movies which are related by Molina to Valentin as a form of entertainment, was in fact a form of fantasy for both characters. This distraction from their current environment allowed them to delve into the lives of others, and create their own interpretations and fantasies in their minds. It is seen that Molina often adds his own descriptions to the movies, thus showing that telling the stories of the movies to Valentin provides Molina with an outlet for his own fantasies. Furthermore, conversations between the characters about the outside world, for example: about Molina’s mother, about Valentin’s love interests and political movement, about Molina’s friends and Gabriel the waiter, was in fact used by both characters as a form of escapism from the reality of being in jail.



Quotations & Explanations:


Page Number




Valentin: “I picture her dark-looking, not too tall, really nice figure, and she moves like a cat. A real piece.”

This identifies a situation in which the movies allow a character the opportunity to create his own fantasy in his mind. This shows Valentin fantasizing about the main character from the panther-woman movie.


Molina: “No, I see her as impeccably attired, a dress with a high collar, edged in lack to cover…”

This again demonstrates how the stories and characters in the movie provide an outlet for Molina/Valentin’s (in this case Molina) fantasies. It depicts what, in Molina’s mind, the main character’s mother in law looks like.


Molina: “…well, to some extent I have to embroider a little.”

This quotation demonstrates how Molina uses his role of raconteur, to have his own fantasies heard. The quote shows that Molina is admitting that he has been altering the stories and descriptions to suit what he pictures in his own fantasies.


Molina: “...and they walk off together arm in arm, trying to forget the terrible spectacle they have just seen…”

This quotation identifies yet another situation where Molina has used his storytelling as an outlet for his own fantasies. This is because, how could Molina know what the characters of the husband and the assistant could be thinking? The thoughts he describes are product of Molina’s own interpretation and imagination.


Molina: “It’s in his eyes. Because he’s got those fair eyes, greenish…”

Molina uses the opportunity to talk about his love interest, Gabriel (the waiter), to allow him to relive his memories with Gabriel. This in itself is a form of escapism.


Valentin: “It says that honest men cannot deal with political power, because their concept of responsibility prevents them.”

The conversation between Valentin and Molina about politics demonstrates how conversations about the world outside of the jail provide an outlet for escapism. It allows Valentin to stop thinking about being in jail, but think instead about his political views.


Molina: “Well, let me tell you the film, to distract you a little and take your mind off the pain.”

It can be seen that Molina uses the opportunities to tell films to not only “distract” Valentin from the reality of being in jail and being in pain, but also to distract himself from this reality.


Valentin: “”Dearest, I haven’t written to you in a long time…”

It can be said that even writing letters to the people outside the jail is used by the characters to channel their emotions. It also, again, allows them to forget the fact that they are in jail, and focus on something which brings them happiness. E.g. here, writing a letter to his love interest, allows Valentin to focus on something other than the reality of being in jail.


Valentin: “It’s the other one…it’s the one I talk to you about that I want to see.”

This quotation again demonstrates how the characters talking about their past life outside of jail allows them to recount their memories, and hence provides them with an outlet for escapism. This quotation is also quite significant as it signifies a moment where Valentin first begins to open up to Molina.


Molina: “But you have to wait for that, until you feel okay, and you can be sure you only get half of that…”

Molina finally is able to play the feminine motherly role that he aspires for. This is Molina’s fantasy role that he finally is able to take on and also uses it as a form of escapism to forget that he’s in a cell, as he is just worried about providing and taking care of Valentin.


Valentin: “We should have a film now, that’s whats missing”

Films have become a regular routine for them as it’s the easiest way for them to escape and indulge in other people’s lives. It is also a chance for Molina to create his own fantasies.


Valentin: “…but I should try to study a little…”

Valentin uses his studying as a form of escapism from the cell. It keeps him connected with the world outside, however it is also a form of escapism as it allows him to forget all his other worries.


Valentin: “Then are we so pressured…by the outside world, that we can’t act civilized? Is it possible … that the enemy, out there, has so much power?”

This quote is a prime example of how being in the cell gives them the freedom to reflect on their lives and the world from the view of an outsider, as being in the isolation, allows them to analyze aspects that they may take for granted every day.


Valentin: “Come on, don’t cry…don’t be that way”

Valentin is speaking to Molina who’s crying because he realizes that his life will never change. He realizes that the fantasy he hopes for his life is not achievable.


Molina: “Remedy for what? Regrets about last night?”

When they begin to have sexual relations, this could be a fantasy for both of them. A fantasy for Molina in the way that he is finally getting a relationship that he wants and a fantasy for Valentin as he may be picturing himself with Marta.


Valentin: “Then why doesn’t it occur to you to ever be… to ever as like I man? I don’t say with women, if they don’t attract you, But with another man.”

Valentin is able to ask questions that in reality he would never dare to. Therefore being in the prison gives them the opportunity to escape from within their normal confined selves. They can escape to be what they are unable to usually be which may be due to conforming to society.



Key Moment:

It can be said that all the moments in the book during which the reality of being in jail has not been mentioned or discussed is important as the motifs of fantasy and escapism are evident here. However, one of the key moments in the book through which these motifs are most evident is when Valentin becomes so caught up in the pain he feels due to the woman he loves no longer being with him, that he begins to shake. This occurs in Chapter 7, Page 144. Valentin says: “I just want to stop shaking so damn much…But there’s something else, and it bothers me so much. Something really terrible, something despicable…because I talk a lot but…but deep down inside, what I...what I really like is…is the other kind of woman…” It shows that Valentin has become so deeply involved in his past and the memories he has of his first love, Marta, that he feels physical pain. This is one of the key moments as it successfully depicts escapism throughout the book as Valentin’s heartache allows him to forget the fact that he is in jail, and thus provides him with an outlet for escapism. Valentin “escapes” the reality of being in jail. Thus, this form of escapism is also a form of fantasy as the “escape” from the reality of jail occurs only in his mind.