The book ‘On the World of Literature’ by Norman Spencer contextualizes Clarice of The Body (Geok-Lin 786). This narrative, explored by Spencer between pages 776 and 790 of the book, employs an allegory of past divine practice, as recorded in most biblical early writings, to portray concepts and attitudes as they existed at the time Clarice was writing.
In this novel, there is a character named Xavier. Xavier is a cheerful and steadfast man who lives in the same world as his two wives. The plot progresses to show Xavier as having unilateral sexual needs to consume his women. This story is based on female homosexuality. In furthering this topic, it provides accounts of the relationship between the identity and corporeality.
According to Spencer, Clarice presents an idea on understanding the body. The particular focus here is on the life of Xavier. The structures and movements of Xavier as presented in the short story show that Xavier has a body with insatiable sexual needs. This shows the male dominance and patriarchal ideas. However the two women, Carmen and Beatriz take necessary steps to dismember the dominance of Xavier and his Grotesque body that stands between their strong feelings about each other. As a result, the women would carry on with their sex life during the day but are protected by the patriarch from the societal scrutiny. Lispector, therefore, uses this analogy in the story to show that it is what are in the mind that matters and not the dominance of a given sex. The writing, therefore, breaks away from the societal standards and expresses the desire of females not to be controlled by the males. Therefore the reality of the body or relationship is to be determined by its fragility.
The story expresses a use of silence as a toll of combating patriarchy. In the story, women assume the passive role imposed on them by Xavier, who has an insatiable body. They however secretly adopt an overt opposition mechanism against the objectification. The tow ladies conceptualize a resistance in secret by cooking a relationship of their use. This relationship is however beyond the vision of Xavier. This way, the women can exonerate themselves from the control of dominant man, Xavier (Geok-Lin 779).
Lispector presents the body of the two women as vulnerable, but the extent of vulnerability differs from the genders. This is because the body itself is susceptible to illnesses that cast the possibility of death in the human life (Lispector 780). To women though, Lispector feels that the body ought to be treated like a doll and a passive object due to more vulnerability. To bring this to perspective, Lispector projects a queer idea.
The major debate in this short story as Spencer notes is on the corporeality of the body. Clarice presents the body of a human being as corporeal which idea is based on the philosophy and scientific knowledge in the major area of embodiment theory. According to her, the views on beauty, existence, and body as regularly shown in the dominant cultures are reinventions. She takes an approach of the feminist that the opposition of the between body and mind is correlated to the male and female tension and contends that women have bodies that are more corporeal. As a result, women can organize themselves certain queer arrangements of sabotaging the control of the man and eventually, allowing themselves out of control by the man.
Evidently, the debate continues since Clarice as an early feminist regards embodiment with suspicion and even represents in the story the possibility of certain happenings without an explanation of any scientific nature (Lispector 55). The debate between the two factions seems to be far from over as the feminists maintain that the body is the marker of differences in class and race while the realist argues that the sexual differences are a natural consequence.
The major method of delivering the message in the short story as Norman notes are the constant creation of rhythm and flow to properly communicate the precise message to her readers. Perhaps this is because she had had a thorough engagement with the language and that at the time she was writing on the body; she had undergone so much refinement in literary writing. She mastered the art of making words do what they were not originally intended to do (Csabai and Eros 16).
The work of Clarice Lispector is influenced by the existing cultural factors in Brazil at the time of writing the story. At the time of the writing, Brazil had not appreciated the gay literature, and in general, it was considered to be forbidden, in bad taste, and to be overly pornographic. Writing at the time that such a topic on gay literature was stigmatized by the culture of Latin Americans, Lispector had to tread with caution. That is the reason why her work on the body that explains the queer relationship between the two women is accompanied with a warning to the honest people not to be misled. He insists, as a caution, that the honest people ought to be protected from the transgressions to the overriding cultures and existing dogmas (Corner 34).
Another reigning factor at the time was the male domination at the time of writing. In fact, Clarice uses the story to admonish the male dominance and control on the body of the woman. Lispector notes that the problem with the male dominance does not originate from the opposition mounted against it by the people dissatisfied with the system. Lispector, however, notes that the problem is with the logical structure of by male dominance. It is for this reason that Lispector uses the metaphors and allegories of the man and the two wives to explain that the breach of the social norms of the marriage is the cause of instability in relationships thus the denial of the body needs of the man (Lispector 68).
Another cultural influence on the writing by Lispector was the culture of Banishment in Brazil. The crime of bigamy was not being enforced. The cultural practice was however different. Consequently, it was not uncommon to see the women who had taken part in lesbianism to have their homes vandalized. It is for this reason that the relationship between the two women was conducted in secrecy and beyond the vision of the patriarch. As a result, Lispector writes the two lesbians were not allowed to exist in Brazil (Lispector 25).
Another factor that affected the writing of this story was the religious thinking of the time. This is additional to the cultural view of the acceptability of female homosexuality in Rio De Janeiro. At the time of writing, Spencer states that there was a widespread practice of Judaism as the ancient monopolistic practice of religion. The works is an evidence of the elements of Judaism in the works (Lispector 69). Her creation of the story on homosexuality and the caution of honest Lispector present the Judaism view on such issues, and that is why he maintains her innocence.
The writing is also influenced by the legal factors of the 1974 time. At this time, though bigamy was an offense at the time, Xavier is presented to be living as a known bigamist unperturbed. As a result, the two women use the existing laws inside out as a manifestation of their transgressions in the form of an erotic alliance.
In conclusion, it is evident from the above contextual analyses of the Book by Norman Spencer that several influences of the time were responsible for the working on the short story on the Body by Clarice Lispector. Additionally, the debate on corporeality of is unlikely to end any time soon since the opponents of feminism movement have also taken their stand so firmly. As a result, the rise of lesbian relationships gains the momentum that then deconstructs the body of Patriarch and forces it out of the central referential place in intimate relations.
Corner, John. Communication Studies: A Reader. Arnold, 1998.
Csabai, M and F Eros. “Bodies in transition: The unbearable lightness of the traditionless self.” Journal of European Psychoanalysis 8(9) (1999): 101.
Geok-Lin, and Norman A. Spencer. One World of Literature. WORLD 9OO, 1993.
Lispector, Clarice. A hora da estrela. 1977. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 1998.
—. A via crucis of the Body. Rio De Janeiro, 1998.