The influence of a machismo society and political unrest in the 1970s in Argentina gave Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manual Puig its main theme and captivation of the novel. At the novel’s core, Puig challenged the Argentine’s society by having a radical political activist and a homosexual as the main characters in the novel. Throughout the novel, Puig was able to illustrate the idea of reality, fantasy, and the struggle to overcome society’s standards by incorporating the idea of film and the author’s background into the novel, which emphasized the close relationship between the prisoners in the novel and Puig’s call for acceptance. I find Puig’s novel interesting to me because of the way he portrays what is commonly viewed as a vice in the larger part of our society (homosexuality) as a moral character. Puig argues that homosexuality is not a vice, and that the society should, respect and accord equal treatment to individuals who practice homosexuality.
Manuel Puig’s novel was published in 1976, a time of political and social turmoil in Argentine. One of the main characters in the novel, Molina, is a homosexual. In this way, the author used his own self-identity as a homosexual to portray Molina as feminine, which is exactly how Puig felt. By using his own background of being a homosexual and putting that into Molina’s character, the author was able to convey the idea that people who are out of society’s “rules” are just as equal as the ones who are following the society’s “rules.” Puig used the idea of injustice toward homosexuals and women to make a point that went against his culture. By doing this, Puig’s intention is to bring up a call to action that both women and homosexuals should be considered equal in the society. Puig’s message has influenced me to be proud of whom I am as well as my race. His words have made it clearer that everyone in society should be considered equal and nobody should face any form of discrimination or hatred just because he/she belongs to one of the ‘minority’ groups in the society.
In addition, Puig used the novel as a way of challenging Argentine’s political and social rules. Molina is imprisoned because of his sexual orientation and Valentin is in prison because of his radical political activity against the government. By incorporating two very drastic ideals that went against his culture, Puig is seeking for the reader’s response. The response can be of repulsion or admiration of Puig’s views. The novel also slammed down the stereotypes against homosexuals as being weak. Molina in the novel embraces his feminine side. He takes care of Valentin throughout the novel and identifies himself as a “mysterious, dangerous woman” (Puig, 2010). By doing so, Puig erased the idea of machismo in Latin American culture and emphasized marianismo.
Therefore, Puig used Molina’s image to reinforce the idea of homosexuality to present to the audience that homosexual acts are not considered shameful or weak, but instead are powerful, convincing the reader to be more open toward homosexuality. In writing this novel, Puig is able to influence me that I should stand for what I think is right and what I think is wrong. When one stands by his/her believes and is able to accept others as well as gain acceptance from others, it results into achievement of great things due to the resulting love and passion. It does not matter what race, religion, sexual orientation, or background a person comes from, all human beings are equal and each one of us deserves respect from all members of the society.