Bulletin of Contemporary Hispanic Studies

‘The Kindness of Strangers’: Kinship and Intertextuality in Todo sobre mi madre and Una suerte pequeña

Bulletin of Contemporary Hispanic Studies (2020), 2, (1), 69–84.


In Pedro Almodóvar’s 1999 film Todo sobre mi madre and Claudia Piñeiro’s 2015 novel Una suerte pequeña, female Argentine protagonists encounter strangers who quote to them, ‘I have always depended on the kindness of strangers’ from Tennessee Williams’s 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire. The line serves to offer new forms of kinship and solidarity to Almodóvar’s Manuela and Piñeiro’s Marilé/ Mary, two mothers whose lives are nearly destroyed by the tragic loss of their sons. In both cases, the reading, discussion and/or performance of Streetcar and other texts helps these women to heal from their loss and to create new families of their choosing, less constrained by accidents of birth. Almodóvar’s and Piñeiro’s uses of intertextuality thus serve to explore what it means to be a woman beyond the heteronormative limits of conventional motherhood.

En la película Todo sobre mi madre de Pedro Almodóvar (1999) y la novela Una suerte pequeña de Claudia Piñeiro (2015), la protagonista argentina encuentra a una desconocida o un desconocido que le cita un diálogo de la obra teatral A Streetcar Named Desire de Tennessee Williams (1947): ‘Siempre he confiado en la bondad de los desconocidos’ o, en otra traducción, ‘Siempre he dependido de la amabilidad de los extraños’. La frase sirve para ofrecerles nuevas formas de parentesco y solidaridad a Manuela (en Almodóvar) y Marilé/ Mary (en Piñeiro), dos madres cuyas vidas son casi destruidas por accidentes trágicos. En los dos casos, la interpretación de la literatura ayuda a estas mujeres a recuperarse de su pérdida y a crear nuevas familias de su propia elección, menos limitadas por accidentes de nacimiento. Almodóvar y Piñeiro se sirven de la intertextualidad para explorar qué significa ser mujer más allá de los límites heteronormativos de la maternidad convencional.

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