(They must pass time through story telling and caring for each other). In "If This is a Man," Primo has to bury his dignity and identity. (Ch. 1 p. 19 before he is arrested he is rebellious. Chapter 2 p. 33 a hollow man reduced to suffering and needs, he is at the bottom. P. 34 name is replaced by a prison number with which one can get food. Chapter 13 the selection to gas chamber, cold, hunger and work leaves little margin for though, even this though, resignation or despair, p. 131).
While similar in many ways the works are also very different. In Levi's work plot is not as important an issue as is Primo's concern with telling his tale through the day-to-day experiences he encounters. Yet these very details including the various settings in which he lives and the tales shared by his character help the reader develop a plot. The plot, while nothing more than a reflection of the day-to-day trials and tribulations of the main character is nonetheless a plot. Without Primo's narration, descriptions of setting and his characterization the reader would be left to assume that no plot exists. Plot occurs in this novel as a result of transformation, specifically Primo's transformation upon his move to the Laboratory.
Primo becomes revived when he is transferred to Chemistry Laboratory. (Ch. 15, p. 145 he is addressed as monsieur, he is entitled to a new shirt, 14 ver the pain of memory, the feeling of a man return to his conscience). His perseverance and endurance of hardship help him to survive in various situations. (Ch. 1 p. 19 man is bound to pursue his own ends by all possible means).
Puig's novel on the other hand more directly delivers a plot. The plot thickens as Molina continues to share with Valentin his tale of fiction. In this novel the plot moves ahead only after the characters begin their transformation. In Puig's novel the two characters move ahead once transformed. (They both change as witnessed in Chapter 11 the lovemaking and Chapter 14 the consent to pass information to Valentin's comrades). Valentin and Molina are not as lucky as Primo, they have final destiny.
Both "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and "If This Is A Man" reveal plot in an abstract manner. In Puig's novel plot is developed through the art of story telling. It is through Molina's tale of fiction that the reader gets an inside view of the characters true nature. This tale helps lift both characters out of their ominous environment, a key feature of the plot in this novel. In "Kiss of the Spider Woman," the relationship and interaction of the two characters are displayed in the simple cell. This cell is the foundation for the plot, which involves the eventual transformation of the two main characters.
In Levi's novel plot development is a bit more abstract. Plot is defined in this case by the day-to-day experiences shared by Levi in his work. The plot might be considered by some drab and gloomy because of this. Here setting and characterization are just as important however, to the development of the novel as they are in the "Kiss of the Spider."
Setting and characterization are the primary focus of Levi's work through which plot can be inferred by the reader. Here the oppressive setting and day-to-day affairs of the main character help shape the work. In Levi's work, the concentration camp is symbolic of cruelly and humility. It is within this very setting that many different events may occur, hence the reader can postulate in his own mind where the plot exists and what may or may not happen to the character. This is an interesting albeit abstract way to develop plot. Plot is not nearly as important it seems however in this work as it is in Puig's novel, where the plot is more easily defined and revealed through story telling.
This is not to deny the importance of plot however, but does point out that characterization and setting are often key elements in plot development in a novel. In Puig's novel the two characters have a miserable fate, while in Primo, the main characters survival skill saves him.
Brent, L. (2000). "Overview Kiss of the Spider Woman." Literature of Developing…