Kiss of the Spider Woman: Motif Tracking – Gaps & Silences




















Quotations & Explanations:






“Wait a minute…I don’t know if this is when someone gives her a greeting that scares her…””

Molina cannot remember what exactly happens within the story, and the ellipses are therefore used to represent him trying to remember and reconstruct the story. This provides the many layers of the story: the readers trying to understand what is happening, the characters trying to construct the movie together and the movie characters and their movie. Also, this shows the uncertainty about Molina’s recollection and may foreshadow Molina’s unreliability as a story- teller.






“-We left off”

This is the first gap that is seen within the text and it takes readers some time before realising that a new day has begun, as the gap happens without warning and explanation. By doing so, Puig emphasises the constructed nature of texts and shows how much work the readers will have to do in deciphering what is happening in the texts, as there is no narrator (associated as reliability, certainty and the truth) present.



“-Night, you too.”



“-I’m listening.”

This gap shows the time lapse that has occurred from one night to another. The gap also shows Valentin’s eagerness to continue with the story, and how excited he is about it despite it already being a night since it was started. This shows his dependency on the stories as a form of escapism and therefore, the power M holds over him.





The silence that is present with the introduction of the guard shows readers a change in power, from either Molina or Valentin to the guard. The ellipses show how M+V are silenced when the guard appears, either to show their fear or as a way to block out the guard and keep the outside from entering in. The presence of the guard comes almost without notice, as there is no indication whatsoever. There is no narrator, no names indicating who says what. 




When reading this the first time through, the reluctance of Molina to eat the rice may be interpreted as, as Valentin had jested, M “afraid of getting fat.” However, upon reading the entire story and knowing that Molina is a traitor, the reluctance that is shown by the ellipsis could show that he doesn’t want to be made sick by the poisoned rice. This means that the use of ellipsis in this instance can be interpreted as reluctance, and alluding to secrecy, betrayal and lies.



“-The smaller portion is more than enough for me”




Without a narrator, it is uncertain how much time has lapsed since M+V have eaten the rice. The gap is used to signify a time change but this time, the subject is still the same matter; the meal.



The ellipses are used to emphasise how much pain Molina is in. On initial readings it is uncertain what is causing M’s pain. His excuse that it is his “nerves” sounds highly unlikely. But having read the whole text, readers then realise that the rice is the reason for M’s pain. These ellipses can then allude to Molina’s betrayal of Valentin.



talking to herself…Aren’t you tired of reading yet?”

This ellipsis is used (in conjunction with the change in text style) to show the change from Molina’s thought track to him speaking to Valentin. The speech is intruding the thought track, though the ellipsis can be seen as gently easing the progression.



“his pisass of a revolution”



“-The meal is about to arrive”

The gap that is present shows the discontinuation of the texts, from M’s thought track to V’s voice. Unlike above, where there seems to be some continuation between the change, the gap shows an undeniable discontinuation between texts. This shows to readers in a more emphasised manner that there are two distinct voices speaking and that they are completely separate. This can be linked to the feelings of both characters and allude to the tension that is present within this scene.



“I’m ashamed…”

The ellipsis empahsises V’s discomfort over the fact that M is acting maternal and trying to clean up after him, as he is sick.  The ellipsis is present as it shows how V doesn’t want to show his weak side therefore is reluctant.



“see if it passes”



“-a European woman”


The gap is present to show the change between V’s speech and M’s nightmare. This change is emphasised by the italicised words in the thought track/nightmare.  The gap is present to aid readers into knowing that two completely different scenarios have occurred. This gap is almost like the non-existent narrator, as it helps make things more clear for readers.



“personal correspondence”



Guard: Remove your cap

The gap shows the two different types of text present: one is a Prisoner report on V and the latter is set out as if it were a play. This gap helps show to readers the numerous ways in which Puig tells us the story of Molina and Valentin. Also, it helps separate the different situations that are occurring within the story and helps the reader to comprehend it more clearly.



“cold food doesn’t tempt me, really”



“-Oh, it definitely agreed with me.”

The gap shows the change from M talking about the food before the meal, and V speaking after they have had the meal. The gap helps clarify and emphasise this point to readers and therefore, once again acts like the narrator of the story.





This time, the gap is emphasised even more with the line. This implies that the two situations are opposites. Proof of this is that in the first situation, they are talking about movies, whilst in the send, they talk about food and M’s lawyer (reminds us of M’s betrayal, untrustworthy.) It also emphasises the tension that was apparent previously, as M wouldn’t continue with the story, annoying Valentin who is dependant upon the movies as much as his books for a form of escapism.



“-Please, Molina”


The ellipsis is used to convey the silence after V gets angry and ruins objects within the cell. It is used to portray the awkwardness of the situation, the argument that occurred, M’s hurt (he doesn’t forgive V for his actions.) The footnote that follows educates readers that your upbringing forces your opinion of the world and that both characters not just V are revolutionaries in their own ways. (M breaks social norms by being homosexual.)



why can’t I see you?”


The silence that is apparent from V may show to readers his discomfort about having sex with another man and his awkwardness. The ellipsis is used to imply to readers that V may be trying to imagine that he isn’t actually having sex. The darkness emphasises the uncertainty. The silence also shows an increase in intensity between what the two men are doing. Also, the silences that are present within chpt.11 are during emotionally periods.





There are many silences present as the two characters are now on new ground. They have just had sex last night. The silences can emphasise a void in power or comfort. It can be interpreted that now that M got what he desired (sex) he is willing to abdicate some of his power. It could also be seen as the two characters are closer and therefore speech is no longer required. It is quite ambiguous.



“I never saw you laugh before”



“-It takes place”

The gap is used to separate M’s speech from the story that M tells (which has a high probability of being completely made up.) This gap itself is not so important but it is separating two important incidences-V’s laughter (natural, freeing impulse) and the story that M tells which still has a bittersweet ending despite being allowed to make it however he wants.



“…how you touch me.”


The silence that follows M’s comment can be interpreted as V’s reluctance to touch upon the subject, as he is in denial. However, as V does later open up about his feelings on the matter on the bottom of the page, this is not that likely. Another possible interpretation is that V is reluctant to talk about how he really felt having sex with another man, as they were possibly not all negative ones.





The silence shows the weakness of V; he is unable to respond to the doctor’s comments. This shows his fragile state, juxtaposing how the readers have usually seen him. However, it could also be seen as V keeping quiet, as he is unsure whether to trust the doctor and does not want to insult the guards and wardens in the case that it is a trap. It may also be hinting to a demise of V, as he is too weak to do anything.




Key Moments:

Pg. 9

This is the first time a gap is introduced and creates confusion for the readers as it takes them some time before they realise what is going on. This is an important point for the motif as Puig is showing readers the constructed nature of texts and how much work must be done in order for readers to follow the story. Also, it adds increasing depths to the whole story, as there are the readers piecing together the story of M and V, V and M piecing together the movie (in which M is piecing together his recollections of the movies) and then within the movie itself.



This is an important moment for the gaps and silences motif as the silences are used predominantly to portray the argument that has occurred and the feelings of the two characters afterwards. Valentin is seen as being apologetic and even guilty over his actions whilst Molina is seen as being hurt, upset and possibly sad over Valentin’s actions. This is an important moment as ellipses are used constantly, whereas in previously chapters there were only smaller moments.


Chpt.11 (the sex scene)

Silences hold a lasting impression within this chapter as they convey strong emotions and help show an increase in intensity of the situation. It also emphasises the ambiguity of the situation. Readers question whether Valentin is keeping silent and asking Molina to do the same in order to enjoy the experience or because he is repulsed by the idea of being with another man and wants to imagine that it isn’t happening.  The silences from Valentin may also show his awkwardness and discomfort about what he is doing. This leads readers to also question whether Valentin is doing this solely to get his way as he initiates the sex (gives M a massage) and does something that may not want to, as he is not a homosexual.



This is also another important moment for gaps and silences as this is when M and V have sex for the second time. On pages 250-257, the silences present may be interpreted in many ways. For instance, it may be seen as V’s disappointment in hearing that M is leaving. Or, it could be seen as contained happiness for V, as his plans are finally coming into motion and the sex that he has been having with another man wasn’t a waste. On pg.253, the silences are used to show tension between the two characters and embarrassment and the reluctance to comply with requests.  On pages 261-263, where they are having sex, the gaps and silences are used to signify the sex, the intensity of it and their emotions. The silences also show M’s abdication of power and V becoming dominant. Also, the silences show their kiss.