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"The Smallest Woman In The World" By Clarence Lispector

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In this story, I think that the author, Clarice Lispector, is trying to show the readers that, although we are supposedly living in this modern civilized day of life, we really should be envious of the simplicity and sincerity that "Little Flower" has in her life. It is sick and disturbing how people live today and view people that are so very diverse and different. The first woman's reaction that is described in the story is one that is disgusted by Little Flower's picture. She explains that she can't look at it a second time because "It gives me the creeps." The one little boy who saw her picture wanted to use Little Flower to scare his brother as a toy, as though she is some hideous creature. He explains, "Wouldn't he howl! " People seem to fear and be disgusted with things that are unfamiliar.

Little Flower lives in the deep Eastern Congo of Africa in the highest trees to save her from being eaten by savage Bahundes, and one may consider this a sheltered uncivilized life. In actuality, however, Little Flower was not scared or disgusted by Marcel Pretre; she answered his questions with kind eyes and facial expressions and "blinked with love and laughed warmly..." She loved the explorer and his strange boots and ring. She embraced the presence of a new, very different looking stranger. Meanwhile, back in our so-called civilized world, people feared her appearance. One girl who was about to be married saw her picture and pitied her. She said to her mama, "Mama, look at her little picture, poor little thing! Just look how sad she is!" The author showed the different reactions of the people seeing Little Flower's picture in the paper as an example of how judgmental our society really is. Little Flower actually isn't sad at all; she is happy to just be alive. She realizes how valuable life is and how quickly you can die or, in her case, be eaten. She is grateful to be bearing a child, and to have food and a home in the trees. It makes you think and realize how distorted our images are about what's normal and accepted.

Another example of how uncivilized we may be is when the family saw her picture and discussed how Little Flower could be their servant, saying, "Imagine her serving our table, with her big little belly!" There is nothing civilized about slavery and servants. It is disturbing to realize that instead of our society being able to accept and embrace the amazement of such a simple yet fulfilled lifestyle, we result to criticizing and making fun of it. Little Flower is a happy, pregnant woman in Africa who should be seen as such and make us more grateful for what we have; not imagined as a cruel device for our own entertainment.


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