To shake the hand of happiness, as Seu Sebastião's family does at the beginning of "O Ataque," is always a short-lived accomplishment in Luiz Ruffato's hellish world. In Inferno Provisório, the sense of marginality, of living life on the periphery, derives from the author's decision to register in panoramic, five-volume form a raw and heart-rending history of the working class in Brazil in the second half of the twentieth century. Correspondingly, his narrative lens captures factory workers who strive for upward mobility and get entangled in consumerist cravings. Yet he also portrays the lowly lower classes, the truly down and out: the unemployed, the sick, the unstable, the suicidal, the insignificant, misfits living in makeshift quarters, those excluded, exploited and discarded by society. This essay addresses this extremely marginalized sector of the populace in Ruffato's Inferno Provisório. I focus in particular on several stories on its third segment, Vista parcial da noite, set in the 1960s and 70s during the Brazilian dictatorship.
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Harrison, Marguerite Itamar, "To Shake the Hand of Happiness: Luiz Ruffato’s Inferno Provisório" (2017). Spanish and Portuguese: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.