In her short story “Remnants of Carnival,” Clarice Lispector describes a very personal experience told from a perspective of an eight-year-old girl. As Megan O’Grady points out, the short story is filled with distinct and varied emotions (O’Grady). The main character of the story is experiencing the desire to belong, sees adult behavior as a mystery, and gains what she wanted only for life to take it away. The girl is in love with the idea of being a part of the carnival, but her parents do not allow her to participate. Until one day, she gets a chance to feel like an adult thanks to the dress made for her out of leftover paper (Lispector 552).
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This begins a day that was unlike any previous Carnivals where she had to stay home. Finally, she could make her hair wavy and become the rose of the Carnival that she always wanted. Unfortunately, this is not the only distinguishing aspect of this day. Her mother was ill for a long time, but just before the carnival, she has gotten worse and urgently needed medicine. This event shifted the focus of the girl to the mortality of her mother, making her lose all holiday cheer. However, the story ends on an uplifting note, with a young boy paying attention to her and making her feel recognized. These three elements make this day different from others.
The story felt highly personal and was likely inspired by the childhood experiences of Lispector. Her mother passed away when she was nine, which fits into the events of the story. The realism of her feelings makes the short story timeless and extremely relatable.
Lispector, Clarice. The Complete Stories. New Directions, 2015.
O’Grady, Megan. “Read an Exclusive Excerpt from Clarice Lispector’s the Complete Stories.” Vogue, 2015, Web.