It is, at times, stated that paradoxes allow for misinterpretation in almost every aspect of life. Wherever those paradoxes appear, conflicts, both external and internal, arise and misunderstandings ensue. In the two novels The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and Kiss of the Spiderwoman by Manuel Puig, however, the characters Alba and Molina, respectively, create paradoxes through their subversive actions. These paradoxes create conflicts in self-interest, which, in turn, reveal the impossibility of actually knowing or understanding one’s true motives.
In Allende’s The House of the Spirits, the character Alba displays subversive tendencies around her progression into adulthood. For example, Alba joins the revolution at age 18, mostly because “she wanted to talk about love” with Miguel. She also wants to assist the revolution because she believes that some of the practices that exist are unfair. However, Alba still wants her grandfather, Esteban, to have some sort of power within the government. The paradox within this scenario lies in the fact that Alba wants to belong to the proletariat cause, yet still wants a family member, who is a conservative, to hold his position, even though Esteban stands for everything that Alba and Miguel are fighting against.
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Alba also fails to correctly comprehend her motives because it seems, at times in the novel, that Alba aids the revolution “out of love” for Miguel and not because she truly wants to assist the cause. Another example of paradox through subversive actions exists as Alba helps the revolution when she “sat in at the university along with the students who had seized a building in support of a strike by workers”, then, soon after, steals guerilla weaponry from her grandfather, hiding it with assistance from her Uncle Jaime. Because Alba participates in a relatively peaceful protest, and then commits grand larceny, this instance shows that she teeters between two opposing sides of the battle: the pacifist approach and the more aggressive component. Also, since Alba truly does not show which side she prefers over the other, it remains difficult to comprehend if she would rather fight alongside Miguel and the other revolutionaries, or support them in a more conscientious objector type of way.
Lastly, Alba intentionally disobeys orders and risks more punishment from the prison warden by recording events in the prison in order to keep her sanity. The paradox in this instance appears in the idea that one cannot tell if Alba values her sanity more than her life, or vice versa. Also, one cannot fathom what Alba truly wants to accomplish through her makeshift memoirs. Even though one can argue that Alba records these events because Clara told her that it was necessary for survival, one could also argue that Alba is doing so in order to show her devotion to Miguel and his cause. By disobeying the warden, Alba displays rebellious tendencies. Also, one could argue that Alba does this in order to take her mind off of Miguel, as some of the other inmates tell Alba to “don’t think about Miguel”. Though he is, in most aspects, the exact opposite of Alba, the character Molina from Puig’s Kiss of the Spiderwoman also exhibits subversive behaviors.
And with these actions, their respective paradoxes also appear to create the aforementioned conflicts in interest. For example, there is one instance in which Molina states that, for him, acting “like a man” in a relationship is “not for me,” thus stating that he enjoys being submissive in a relationship instead of being the aggressor. However, Molina takes the initiative when agreeing to support Valentin’s guerilla motives, not submitting to Valentin, but standing on an equal level with him.
The fact that Molina is not submissive in regards to Valentin allows one to question whether Molina is pretending to be submissive in order to gain Valentin’s pity and or trust, or rather allow Valentin and also the Warden to underestimate him.Another example of subversive activities in the novel appears as Molina participates in a double manipulation. At.