Pilar Quintana’s novel “The Bitch” introduces us to characters who experience an extremely difficult life residing in a remote jungle area on the coast of Colombia. Not able to conceive a child, Damaris, an extremely poor Afro-Colombian woman, decides to adopt an abandoned dog, to love and to nurture. The title of the novel is touching and significant, since it refers to both the mongrel and to the derogative connotations of the word.
As we enter Damaris’s world, we learn that she faces many adverse conditions that place obstacles to the fulfillment of her dreams: domestic violence, minimum income, as well as the societal pressures brought about by her gender. Her unfulfilled expectations in a society with extreme class and racial divides also contribute towards experiencing a hard life.
In this short novel, with just a few vivid words, Pilar Quintana delves deep into the protagonist’s inner life. The author paints an engrossing picture of the frustrations of daily life faced by countless Latin American women. She tackles issues of loneliness, resilience, cruelty, rage, and the disempowerment felt by those subjected to eke out an existence in a harsh environment. By tracking and capturing the mundane experiences of forgotten people, this novel helps us understand what extreme poverty feels like.
According to the World Bank, pains caused by poverty include: physical pain that comes with too little food and long hours of works, emotional pain stemming from the daily humiliations of dependency and lack of power, and moral pain caused by being forced to make difficult choices.
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