Ponciá Vicêncio: an analysis of the book by the award-winning Conceição Evaristo

Ponciá Vicêncio: an analysis of the book by the award-winning Conceição Evaristo

The book naturally reflects the world of the segregated and a language that makes the book flow. The author Conceição Evaristo explores, in the narrative, the losses of the characters, a progressive reduction of the little they already had. Therefore, a good prospect to launch on the book is that of lack.

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Everything in the book can be attributed to an absence: to the main character, the lack of family, food, coffee, her own; family members, dreams and the perspective of close stability; the novel itself lacks descriptions, information and chapters. Everything in there demonstrates and misses something, anyway.

Conceição Evaristo’s vigilant literature is transgressive and goes against canonical literature by showing what those who suffer the longest go through in their daily lives.

The media does not portray the lives of blacks, poor people, immigrants within their own territories. And so it is. My grandmother and my bisa are Ponciás. They lack something too, things that I never knew how to measure.

The life traced by the main character runs through the lives of millions, while still being unique and closely linked to the plot issues that, at the same time, figure as individual and collective. A country-sized lack.

Imagination, another possible line for understanding or reframing the book, is the line that leads to narrative construction. In addition, Conceição brings a historical-social theme that explores the character’s losses, as already exposed.

However, it is worth mentioning that Ponciá Vicêncio lives more absences, like that of his father, who left without returning, and that of his grandfather, who gave her the legacy of memory.

She still misses her husband’s love, who became disenchanted with the character. In addition, the absence of brother and mother also lives.

Mostly, he lives lacking in himself, since he no longer recognizes himself as a person, he misses the golden times. However, when he remembers them, he feels disgust and tries to forget-remember. “They are emotional upheavals of profound successive absences”, according to Sergio Mota.

The rescue of the past and the present

The repeated phrases report characters divided into a vicious-already-sober cycle that shows what comes after the disappointments, disgraces and disenchantments.

It is as if everything bad has already passed, so the whole book takes place after the error of utopia, when everyone is left to themselves, mainly on the margins of society – black, poor. And memory appears as the motto of what is not built in there: peace.

In an incessant search to find what went wrong, what must be reversed, characters more revisit the past than walk with their own lives.

This narration that carries out a dialogue between the present and memory is a stagnation linked to the hand of the clock. The stories orbit Ponciá, who is a star who lies in a slow death and without reversal.

And there is no denying that the story of the character of Conceição is tied to the heritage of her grandfather who not only gave her name – belonging to the owner of the slave Vô Vicêncio -, but also implanted hopelessness and subservience to the family.

However, in the revolt against the owner himself, he added one point to the curse: the ease with which the revolt was not completed. When he revolted and failed, he added a dead spirit of revolt to the family, which makes the main heiress, Ponciá, laugh and cry at the end of the book.

Her grandfather’s heritage can also be a rescue with the past and ancestry, which help her in a self-knowledge of accessing memories that reverberate throughout the stretched line of her story.

The grandfather’s gift permeates the whole story and corrodes Ponciá’s torn personality. It’s like a poison. A gear that, however much it was given and represents an additional mechanism, was broken since the genesis.

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The book does not need many descriptions to demonstrate what is happening there, in the lives of those on the margins. So much so that it is a book of a hundred and a few pages that clumps to the soul for a lifetime.


But I wish psychological, physical and verbal violence were the only ones that permeate the character’s life. It is not only the narrative elements that transform Ponciá Vicêncio into a raw account of the world. These findings of physical violence are immediate and simple to carry out.

But there are other violations of existence, such as: servile work; inefficient public transport, especially in places on the edge of the world; the lack of access to culture and everything.

It is what makes the book not a fictional writing, but a portrait of the world. It is the daily aggressions that are common in the lives of many people, people who are not seen on television other than in news of violence, people who do not go to the theater, people who are not in books.

Conceição Evaristo it lends itself to highlighting a human, suffering, and still resistant black woman, more out of a desire to see the past than to build a utopian future.

By Gustavo Magalhães – Speak! PUC RIO