Kiss of the Spider Woman: Motif Tracking – The Footnotes























Quotations & Explanations:


Page No





“tries to establish the fact that abnormal sexual behavior stems from an imbalance, proportionally speaking, in male and female hormones”

D.J. West’s 1st theory. This researcher obviously views homosexuality as ‘abnormal’ and wrong, like the majority of society at the time, and so tries to find a scientific reason to prove why homosexuals are the way they are, rather just accepting them as ‘normal’ people.




“it could be cured by means of injections to restore the hormonal balance”

Again, the same researcher is seeking a cure for homosexuality, suggesting it’s strangeness and unacceptability in society at the time




“possible physical origin of homosexuality is…one referring to intersexuality…or hermaphrodites, are those individuals who pertain physically to neither one of the sexes completely, although they still present certain features of both”

D.J. West’s 2nd theory. Still he searches for a ‘rational’ scientific explanation of homosexuality. Since he, and other scientists included in the footnotes, are not homosexuals themselves, we can’t trust their theories because they themselves don’t know what it feels like to prefer someone with the same sex as you. They are on the outside looking in, just as readers are looking in on Molina and Valentin’s lives.




“the unexpected arrival of the foreign vedette had not been announced with the usual fanfare; on the contrary, it was decided for Leni Lamaison to arrive incognito at the capital city of the Reich…Leni had already been identified with the latest rages in Parisian fashion, her beauty having so often served to embody the same”


This excerpt from the Tobis-Berlin Studios press-book for ‘Her Real Glory’ contrasts with Molina’s narrative as the press-book uses concise, informative language whilst Molina uses a more descriptive style of storytelling with long sentences often present. Also, the press-book describes how Leni looks from a general perspective, Molina chooses to go into great detail and describe everything she’s wearing from his own views.



“ ‘can and will be halted by means of concerted nationalism on the part of the populace itself, synthesis of State and People’ ”

Molina’s account of ‘Her Real Glory’ doesn’t include any quotations from the Leader whilst the press-book does, and this portrays how he’s not interested in politics and the more serious historical context of the film. Instead he focuses on the romance [please see box below].




Leni asks Werner to shelter her with his embrace…Leni has asked Werner to spend this last weekend with her…so that they might dedicate some little time to visit the bewitching valleys of the Bavarian Alps”

The difference between the press-book’s brief mention of romance emphasizes Molina’s feminine side and his obsession with romance (which Molina extensively narrates). The press-book instead focuses on making Germany seem like an amazing country as the film is propaganda, whilst Molina chooses to ignore all that since he’s unconcerned by it




“West again stresses the absence of perspective on the part of those theoreticians who would consider homosexual tendencies as unnatural, alleging – without proof of the fact – glandular or heredity causes”

It seems this researcher has contradicted himself, as above he stated homosexuality is ‘abnormal sexual behaviour’. He now realises it’s not unnatural and there’s no proof of what it’s caused by. This change in opinions may be included by Puig here in order to create parallels with his novel’s plot. In the beginning he expects readers to think like everyone else – that homosexuality is ‘abnormal’ – and the scientific research we’re presented with tries to explain it for us. As the story progresses, the characters developed and the readers’ feelings for the characters deepen though, this new opinion shows up to aid our understanding of homosexuality. Puig is gradually trying to persuade us that homosexuality is not ‘wrong’ by using both scientific research and characters.




“the probability of a homosexual orientation increases the more the male child identifies with his mother”

This reflects and possibly explains Molina’s attachment to his mother and the way he never mentions his father. Puig is giving us a little more information so we can develop Molina’s character by ourselves if we choose to believe this scientific theory.




“the principal objection being that homosexuals whose identification is deeply feminine seem to feel attracted to very masculine types”

Freud’s theory here could explain Molina’s desire for Valentin, a character who seems very masculine. Again, Puig is letting us fill in the gaps here for Molina’s character by presenting us with scientific research whilst readers can choose whether we want to believe it or not.




“certain abnormal types of personality, whose predominant traits are avarice and an obsession with orderliness, may be influenced by repressed anal desires…arise from the unconscious nostalgia for the pleasure they felt when younger in retaining…their feces”


Another feature of Molina could possibly be explained here by Freud’s views. He was the one who volunteered to clean up Valentin when he had ‘accidents’ when he was sick, and Puig is suggesting this may be why Molina doesn’t mind doing it – firstly he’s obsessed with cleanliness, secondly he feels guilty for playing with feces as a child, and thirdly he truly cares for Valentin



“outlets for sublimation would include any activity…that permits use of sexual energy considered to be excessive by the cannons of our society…a fundamental distinction between repression and sublimation by suggesting the latter may be salutary, insofar as it is indispensable to the maintenance of a civilized community”

We can deduce that Molina probably didn’t have or think he had appropriate sublimation outlets where he could express his excess sexual impulses, and this landed him in jail for ‘corruption of minors’. His homosexual energy was considered ‘excessive by the cannons of our society’, which may be why he felt repressed by society at the time and had his ‘sexual revolution’. From this quote it appears that a ‘civilized community’ has strict rules as to how much and what kind of sexual energy one can express, hence Molina being an outcast in this society.




“those who in infancy somehow reject…such rules of parental conduct [paternal or maternal figures of a particularly stern disposition] will favor radical causes, repudiate distinctions of class and treat understandingly those who exhibit any unconventional inclinations; homosexuals, for example”

This could explain a lot about Valentin’s family background – both or one of his parents could’ve been very strict and by choosing to go against this conservativeness he has made himself a rebel who favours radical causes. Valentin’s radical cause is his political movement. The quotation may also explain why he doesn’t seem to be disgusted by Molina and is instead thankful to have him as a cellmate because of his caring personality. Puig probably included these footnotes in order to, once again, let readers fill in the blanks and develop the characters in their minds according to our own views.




“the boy, at the moment when he decides not to adhere to the world proposed by such a [oppressive] father…is actually exercising a free and even revolutionary choice isasmuch as he is rejecting the role of the stronger, the exploitative one…the world of the mother…will turn out to be much more attractive to him, especially because of the absence of aggressivity


Again, this could allow readers to understand how and why Molina is homosexual, has a very close relationship with his mother and never mentions his father. It furthermore explains why he doesn’t favour Valentin’s aggressive political movement and instead prefers to think about romantic fairy tale stories which are not violent.



this prejudice…concerning homosexuals placed them on the periphery of movements for class liberation and political action in general. The socialist countries’ mistrust of homosexuals is notorious”

Once more, this could give an explanation for Molina being against Valentin’s political movement and also why he felt like an outsider because of his country’s mistrust of homosexuals. This was probably why he felt repressed and felt the need to ‘revolutionize’ what is considered to be ‘normal’ sexuality.




the emergence of the woman’s liberation movements, when the resulting judgments tended to discredit…those unattainable but tenaciously imitated roles of ‘strong male’ and ‘weak female’. The subsequent formation of homosexual liberation fronts is one proof of that”


The historical context is revealed here when we see the stereotypical society in which the characters and their parents lived through. The conventional roles were ‘strong male’ and ‘weak female’, but in the 60’s societies started changing and became more accepting of ‘deviants’ and roles which were not considered ‘normal’ previously (e.g. feminine males and masculine females).



Key moment:

Pages 139-140

In these pages Freud discusses the scientific reasons and psychological reasons for male homosexuality. This information has come from his work ‘On Narcissism: an Introduction’. Freud basically says that ‘the male homosexual would begin with a temporary maternal fixation, only to finally identify himself as a woman’. This is important because this has striking links to the way Molina has been described throughout the novel.


The footnote goes on to say that ‘If the object of his desire should happen to be a young boy, this is because his mother loved him, as a boy himself’ this again has a striking resemblance to Molina, this is particularly true when he says ‘I was tied around my mothers apron string’ which suggests that he was loved as a child and we already know that Molina is in prison for ‘corruption of minors’.


The final part of the paragraph which once again resembles Molina’s behavior, is the fact that Freud states that ‘homosexuals whose identification is deeply feminine seem to feel attracted to very masculine types’. The masculine type can clearly be Valentin, and to strengthen this point, the inclusion of Molina’s love for Gabriel, who is also described as a very masculine figure is also an example of evidence of Freud’s statement.


Essentially, the reason for this section being of importance is that these pages reflect Molina. This helps readers understand the reasons and the science for Molina’s actions as well as summarizing the overall relationships in the novel. This particular paragraph almost acts as a clue for readers to understand what is happening in the novel, before the conclusion at the end.