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This article is taken from PN Review 52, Volume 13 Number 2, November - December 1986.

Mineirinho Clarice Lispector

I suppose that I should search within myself as one of the representatives of mankind, in order to ascertain why the death of a criminal should cause so much sorrow. And why I prefer to speak of the thirty shots which killed Mineirinho rather than discuss his crimes. I asked my cook what she thought about the matter. I detected the tiny spasm of conflict on her face, the disquiet of not being able to rationalize her feelings, of being forced to betray contradictory emotions because she did not know how to conciliate them. Irreducible facts, also an irreducible indignation, the violent compassion of indignation. To feel ourselves puzzled and divided in the face of our inability to forget that Mineirinho was dangerous and had murdered far too often; yet we wanted him alive. The cook was somewhat wary, perhaps because she was suspicious of avenging justice. With an unmistakable tone of irritation which came from the heart, she replied coldly: 'There is no point in my telling you what I feel. Surely everybody knows that Mineirinho was a criminal? But I'm convinced that his soul was saved and that he's already in heaven.' I answered: 'Much more likely than in the case of lots of people who have never killed anyone.'

Why? For the first commandment, which protects irreplaceable body and life, says that thou shalt not kill. That commandment is my greatest guarantee: so do not kill me, for I do not wish to die, ...


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