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|Title:||Father's Farmland, Daughter's Innerland|
Department of English, NTNU
|Abstract:||Jane Smiley in A Thousand Acres reinterprets King Lear, giving us the “other side of the story” by retelling it from the point of view of the two “evil” older daughters. Smiley lets us understand this evil as something more like psychological suffering at the hands of an abusive father: her main theme is the most brutal form of domestic violence—father-daughter incest—and the originally innocent daughters’ reaction to it. In this study I center my analysis on the narrator-daughter’s traumatic memory of sexual abuse and the therapeutic discourse through which she tries to overcome it. Here the domestic situation of the incest “survivor” greatly resembles the paradigm observed by Judith Herman and Lisa Hirshman: a dominating and controlling father, an absent or weak mother, and an abused daughter who is silenced by the tyrannical father from speaking about his abusive behavior. By utilizing Herman and Hirshman’s clinical evid- ence on incest cases, Pierre Janet’s theory of traumatic memory (as against narrative memory), and Herman’s study on the recovery of the abused victim, this paper examines the image of the incestuous father, the survival strategies of the daughter, the disclosure of amnesia, and the victim’s progress toward recovery through retelling her story of sexual violence. Even if in a state of mourning, the incest survivor, showing no sign of rage, “survives twice: survives the violation; and survives the death that follows it, reborn as a new person, the one who tells the story” (Culbertson 191).|
|Appears in Collections:||Concentric: Studies in English Literature and Linguistics|
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