The Smallest Woman In The World Summary

Superior Essays
An Amorous Intrusion The fear of people and ideals foreign to what we know often results in a detrimental division. “The Smallest Woman in the World”, a short story written by Clarice Lispector, follows a European explorer on an expedition through the Congo. He comes across the smallest woman in the world, who he names Little Flower. A striking image of Little Flower soon spreads across the globe. Through Lispector’s omniscient narrator, the audience experiences the innermost thoughts of people reacting to the discovery. Without further knowledge or cause, these people express fear of what the “civilized” world does not know. Lispector weaves a critique of colonization and the human condition, delving deeply into the psyche of each character’s …show more content…
Her terror stems from the fact that her people often face the threat of being eaten due to their minuscule size. The explorer studies her with unparalleled curiosity and, in turn, she studies him. However, she is unaware that the Marcel is not the only one scrutinizing her. The discovery of the smallest woman, announced on the front page of a newspaper, spreads rapidly. The image of Little Flower evokes highly emotional responses from people around the world. Lispector calls attention to many individual reactions, yet two noted receptions of Little Flower echo the emptiness of love and silence. The shorter of the two reads, “In another house, in the consecration of spring, a girl about to be married felt an ecstasy of pity: ‘Mama, look at her little picture, poor little thing! Just look how sad she is!’ ‘But,’ said the mother, hard and defeated and proud, ‘it’s the sadness of an animal. It isn’t human sadness.’ ‘Oh, Mama!” said the girl, discouraged” (387). In this passage, the image of Little Flower fazes, worries, and disturbs a bride and her mother. The author places us in the home of a bride who, upon seeing the image, decides to pity Little Flower. However, her mother immediately redacts her commiseration, stating that Little Flower’s sadness is not that of a human. The sympathy and subsequent dehumanization of Little Flower stems …show more content…
The bride, in marriage, choses to surrender herself to the “tyranny of love (397). Seeing the picture of Little Flower, she feels “an ecstasy of pity” (387). The juxtaposition of the word ecstasy—meaning euphoria or happiness—and the word pity—meaning compassion and sadness—serves to show that the bride experiences a sense of elation as she sees someone that she deems miserable. Dissatisfied with her impending wedding, the bride projects her misery onto Little Flower fabricating the air of sadness. Like Little Flower, unable to speak the language of the explorer, the bride fears the loss of her own voice to her love. In this silence, she becomes an object susceptible to the same marginalization and manipulation as Little Flower. Unlike the bride’s fear of love and voicelessness, the mother renders Little Flower undeserving of having a voice. Described as “hard and defeated and proud”, the mother lacks any sympathy to the plight of Little Flower. She, instead, has gone through marriage, has lost her voice, and has used shrewd dispassion as way to deal with the emptiness of her own love. To cope with the tragedy of Little Flower made a spectacle, the mother calls her an “animal” (387). By dehumanizing Little Flower’s apparent pain, the mother illustrates how she does not want to acknowledge the suffering intertwined in her own life. The mother echoes society’s ability to strip the

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