Brazilian Literature

Topics: Aluísio Azevedo, City of God, The House of Sand Pages: 6 (2353 words) Published: January 17, 2014
Kunal Kothari
Brazilian Film and Lit
Professor Nascimento
August 8, 2012
Final Exam
1b) The Slum:
The Slum, which was written by Aluisio Azevedo is a book centered on a slum called Sao Romao, its inhabitants, and the people who live close by to this slum. The book takes place in this slum where there are many people with different backgrounds and ethnicities who live there, and they all have their own stories to tell. Throughout this story the author, Azevedo, presents the audience with certain aspects of life in Brazil, specifically race and ethnicity, women’s roles, and Social class. Overall, in my opinion, this book was quite interesting in that it had a unique story and did not have a main character to narrate the novel. However, even though there wasn’t a main character, it seemed as though the story revolved around Joao Romao’s life. In essence, it seemed the story revolved around telling his tale of how he started off as a low level entrepreneur and slowly climbed up the social ladder and eventually became the lord of the slums. More or less, it seems that the novel went into depth and traced the growth of the slums and how it changed over time to an undesirable place.

In the beginning of the story Romao, a Portuguese man, was a hard working proprietor with dreams of moving up in social stature. He had a lover also, she was black slave named Bertoleza, and she prepared food for him. But Romao felt sorry for her, when her roommate died, and her shack broken into, he helped her with finances, and advised her on what to do with her life. Eventually she would move in, but having Bertoleza as a lover and roommate would later complicate Romao’s life, but I’ll get into that later. Already in the book I can see tension between race and ethnicity. Moreover, Romao’s greed in taking over the slums and changing its system is clearly scene from the beginning scene of the novel. In Brazil at the time there were the Portuguese, the upper race, the mulatto a mix between black and Portuguese, the middle race, and the Blacks who were on the bottom. “A filthy wretch who never wore a jacket and ate and slept with a Negress” (Azevedo 34). This was spoken of Romao by his high class neighbor, Miranda, who happened to be another Portuguese. In essence, we can see that there was a big clash in ethnicity and customs between the Brazilians, Portuguese, and African Americans which we see is a big deal during the later scenes of the novel. Nonetheless, Miranda was angry with Romao for having a slum next to his brand new house that he just moved into to. There was always tension between the Brazilians and Portuguese in the book. After Jeronimo had killed Firmo, his wife Piedade went over to Rita’s because she knew that Jeronimo had left her for Rita. In the ensuing fight that broke out in the entire slum there were chants of “Viva Portugal”, and “Viva Brazil” (Azevedo 159) between the combatants. From this we can clearly see the clash between ethnicities people had during this time period. More or less, throughout the novel we see that the slum is constantly changing as Romao begins to take power upward in the social ladder. His greed and hunger slowly brings him wealth and power. Eventually, Romao begins to build his first rooms in the slums and buildings. At first we see that: For two years the slum grew from day to day gaining strength and devouring newcomers. And next door, Miranda grew more and more alarmed and appalled by that brutal and exuberant world, that implacable jungle growing beneath his windows with roots thicker and more treacherous than serpents, undermining everything, threatening to break through the soil in his yard and shake his house to its very foundations (Azevedo 13). From this we can clearly see that things were drastically changing around the slums. New buildings were being built and the area was starting to look more and more like a city.

The problem arises, however, with the poor living...

Cited: Azevedo, Aluísio, David Rosenthal, and Affonso Romano De Sant 'Anna. The Slum: A Novel.
Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000. Print.
City of God/ Cidade De Deus. Dir. Fernando Meirelles. Perf. Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro
Firmino, and Phellipe Haagensen. Lionsgate, 2004. DVD.
The House of Sand. Dir. Andrucha Waddington. Prod. Andrucha Waddington, De Barros,
Leonardo Monteiro, De Hollanda, Pedro Buarque, and Pedro Guimarães. By Andrucha Waddington, Elena Soárez, and Luiz Carlos Barreto. Perf. Fernanda Montenegro, Fernanda Torres, Ruy Guerra, and Seu Jorge. Sony Pictures Classics, 2006.
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