Manuel Puig’s 1974 novel, El Beso de la mujer araña, investigates how empathy can be incrementally learned through a melodramatic storytelling pratice and, eventually, mobilized to effect political and social change. As Molina and Valentín, the two protagonists, coinhabit the same jail cell in Buenos Aires, Puig uses the sentimental, aesthetic and formal qualities of nineteenth-century melodrama, seen primarily through the Hollywood B-film, Cat People, to structure the reader’s understanding of how political, sexual, and class-based empathy is constructed inside Argentina’s first “Dirty War novel.” Puig employs the structure of melodrama as a means of mobilizing empathy vis-à-vis the psychological and physical body of the other. What develops in El Beso is a model for narrative empathy centering on the body as a vehicle for empathetic connection. Empathy, therefore, becomes a space for political action. This empathy is constructed through reading and the excess of identification, which in turn diminishes the self/other divide, and enables the surrender to touch and desire which subsequently shapes a new identity.