Kiss of the Spider Woman: Motif Tracking – Masculine Men





















The connotations of the words masculine men are a reflection of our society; society provides us with the connotations of words, so while exploring the motif of Masculine Men we have to keep in mind these connotations and how Puig will use them to express his views on various issues. The power/strength of men seems like a purely animalistic, natural way of viewing men. Puig takes us back to basic primitive instinct to define men in this part of the motif. The role of men in society has always been a constant until the emancipation of women; this motif partly investigates the impact of this as well as society’s role in the limitations of men by giving them a role to play.We receive the ‘female’ perception of what a man is from Molina, from this we also see how men are often romanticized and therefore stereotyped.



Quotations & Explanations:






a male panther, and it’s hard to tell if he’s watching her to tear her to pieces and make a meal of her, or he’s driven by some other, still uglier instinct.”

Puig makes what seems to be a clear statement concerning males and their raw power, by alluding them to a dangerous panther the reader gets a sense that men are basically animals even though we may appear to be civilized on the surface, there is an ambiguous driving force behind mans behavior.



“he’s watching her from the doorway, the way she’s sleeping, and he lights up his pipe, standing there pensive”

Here a romanticized picture of a man is created, this is through Molina’s narration of a movie, shows how society idealizes men and how foolish it is. This also shows how women are dependant on their idealized version of men because Molina, representing women in the novel is so dependant on the heroes of his stories.

Molina’s perfect man, Gabriel the waiter



“The great pleasure’s something else, it’s knowing that I put myself in the service of what’s truly noble, I mean …well…a certain ideology…”

Revolution can be seen as merely a microcosm of an existing society, revolutionaries, by proclaiming their independence of the present government of society proceed then to establish their own government and therefore their own small society. If seen in this light Valentin’s words show basically a subservience to society which he refuses to accept under normal circumstances, he wishes only to act in a ‘noble’ cause which just shows a false belief in independence.  Through this we see also a romanticized image of himself which basically shows Valentin fitting himself into a stereotype, both self-revealing irony and pure irony for the revolutionary.



“The architect’s.”

Men are in some ways completely restricted by their professions, unlike women who are often restricted in their choice of occupation they have freedom in their choice of occupation but whichever occupation they choose they are then trapped by it. Society sees them merely as tools and defines them according to their ‘usefulness’



“And don’t call me Valentina, I’m no woman”

Masculine pride, seems to believe that to be female is to be inferior it also demonstrates how Valentin’s vanity, he believes that the name society labels you with defines you.

Men are defined by their role within society, in some ways just as trapped as we perceive women to be.



“You men, all a bunch of …sons of bitches, no reflection on your mother, who certainly isn’t to blame”

Shows how even men are susceptible to unfair gender stereotypes although in this sentence Molina easily degrades both sexes; he generalizes men and insults them but he also stereotypes women merely as good mothers.



“-he caressed the lettuce leaves, and the tomatoes, but nothing softy about it-how can I put it? They were such powerful moments, and so elegant, and soft, and masculine at the same time”

This shows a highly romanticized image of a man again from Molina, however there is also another interpretation of this; this could also be seen as a subtle form of Puigs main question what is a man? This quote does not provide an answer it instead gets the rader to ask this question, by putting in the seeming oxymoron of “so elegant, and soft, and masculine” the reader begins to question their definition of men.



“: the wife made more than he did. She was a secretary in some company and slowly got to be some sort of executive, and he didn’t go for that too much”

This relates both to men’s roles in society and sexism, Molina’s ‘boyfriend’ has an inferiority complex about which shows how insecure he is about himself merely because of his job which demonstrates to the reader the societal pressure that is put on men because of their occupation. It is a clear example of sexism because the entire reason behind his inferiority complex is not being a waiter “-he put her in her right in her place. I was surprised. Because waiters, poor guys, they always have this complex about being servants,, it’s the fact that his wife is earning more than him.



Molina, I’m gonna have to pester you again-quick, call the guard to open up”

Shows the lack of independence that Valentin is forced to accept, shows a dependence on a ‘woman’, which destroys the readers’ earlier impression of Valentin as a strong self-reliant character. His physical breakdown leads to his emasculation, which might be another message that Puig is sending about how judgmental society is or it could be him showing the need for interdependence.


217 - 218

Mid 217 onwards

This can be seen as Valentin’s surrender and his weakness in the face of the opposite sex, how easily he is seduced by a ‘woman’ or it could be Valentin assuming power through sexuality, after this Molina is more submissive towards Valentin. As an act which is totally abhorrent to society this can also be seen as the start of Valentin’s real revolution against society.




Key Moment:

Puig seemingly provides us with an answer with the character of Valentin the archetypal male; a strong, passionate, independent character etc. But he progressively deconstructs this image. First we see his growing reliance on Molina then we see how he reverts back to a childish state while he is sick further increasing his reliance on M he gives in to M’s ‘seduction’, temptation and most importantly he destroys the readers faith in Valentins ideals by destroying the society in which the ideals are held. By revealing the weaknesses of Valentin Puig effectively destroys our (society’s) perception of a ‘masculine male’. The entire motif is used not only to discredit our prejudices of men but also to help us realize how fallible our society is, especially the part of the motif where we see how even men are confined by society.