Showing 151 - 160 of 161 annotations tagged with the keyword "Child Abuse"

Fitting Ends

Chaon, Dan

Last Updated: Nov-23-1997
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The narrator, now a grown man, relates the story of his brother Del's troubled life and early death. The real story, however, concerns the narrator himself, as he reflects on his relationship with Del, his father's behavior toward both of them, and on the possibility that he (the narrator) played a role in Del's death.

When the narrator was fourteen, older brother Del--drunk at the time--was struck and killed by a train as he walked along the tracks. But the central event in the story is the narrator's betrayal of Del. Although Del had saved him from falling off a grain elevator roof, the narrator had falsely blamed Del for the near-fatal accident, out of fear of the father's fury, and because "After years of being on the receiving end, it wasn't in my nature to see Del as someone who could be wronged . . . ." [p. 57]

"My father had good reason to believe this lie . . . . " [p. 55] The incident occurred shortly after Del had been released from a juvenile detention facility--detained there for trying to strangle the narrator and threatening their father with a shotgun.

The narrator (later) finds in Del's notebook an essay revealing Del's intention to reform. But with the passage of time after the grain elevator episode, Del reverts to delinquent behavior; a year later he is dead. The narrator never reveals to his father the truth and the family never discusses Del's death.

At times, over the years, as the narrator searches for meaning and closure he believes he can "take all the loose ends of my life and fit them together perfectly . . . where all the details add up . . . ." [p. 68] In the end, however, we are left wondering whether this is possible--for the narrator--or for anyone.

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Butchering Time

Newman, Carol

Last Updated: Oct-07-1997
Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Cora is a fourteen year old girl who lives in Oklahoma, probably during the early part of this century. She has had to assume the work of child and home care after the death of her mother earlier in the year. As she learns these new tasks she compares herself to her mother.

Her worst fear is of butchering time, when she has to hear the squeals of the pig being butchered and smell the fat as it is made into lye soap. After she carries food to her father and brothers in the field, her father pursues her and rapes her, telling her she is the woman in the family now. At the end of the story, butchering time is no longer her greatest fear.

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World of Wonders

Davies, Robertson

Last Updated: Jul-25-1997
Annotated by:
Sirridge, Marjorie

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

This is the third novel in Davies’s major work, The Deptford Trilogy. While it is not necessary to read the novels in this trilogy in sequence, doing so makes each story more complete and interesting, and clarifies the relationships between some of the characters. This particular novel tells the life story of the unfortunate boy introduced in The Fifth Business, who was spirited away from his Canadian home by one of the members of a traveling side show, the Wanless World of Wonders.

Magnus Eisengrim, now a master magician, describes his life as an innocent child who was introduced not only to rape, but to the sad world of the "freak" show, as he traveled throughout his formative years with these unfortunate people. The main good which came out of this was that he developed empathy for the members of the side show, and that he taught himself the skills of magic and became an accomplished magician. A turning point in his life occurred when he got away from this terrible environment and became an understudy for a famous English actor. In emulating this man, he moved on to become a marvelous illusionist.

The last part of the story is concerned with Magnus’s role in making a film about the life of Robert-Houdin; he finally tells his life story to the group of people with whom he is working. In this group there is a friend from his early life--a man who treated him badly when he was the actor’s understudy and who doesn’t now recognize him--and the director who is trying to help the group work together. Another important character is a woman with a physical disability which had so altered her appearance that it had warped her world view; Magnus helps her come to grips with her situation. The descriptions of the interactions among these unusual characters are Robertson Davies at his best.

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Summary:

The title refers to the lineage of women who form the unusual community surrounding the central character’s life in the decades following World War II. When we first meet Antonia (Willeke Van Ammelrooy), she is an elderly Dutch woman announcing to herself that today is the day she will die, and when the film concludes, indeed, she does. However, what transpires in-between presents a rich story of birth, death, disability, love, hatred, and, above all, a tenacious sense of nurturing regeneration in spite of harsh and difficult obstacles.

Audiences are swept into a pastoral epic filled with the pathos and joy of human life. In the unfolding flashback, Antonia and her teen-aged daughter, Danielle (El Dottermans), return to her rural birth setting on the day her own mother dies, and where she will become the life force for her daughter and, eventually, for the entire village.

Two women running a large farm seems at first daunting, but we discover that Antonia is a farmer in what might be called a feminist sense: she cares for everything that grows. Not only do her crops thrive under prudent management, but so do the vulnerable, infirm and damaged figures who are brought into her garden and house for recovery.

For example, Loony Lips, an awkward Ichabod Crane of a boy, tortured as the village idiot, is rescued by Antonia to become a productive member of the farm; later, he and DeeDee, Farmer Daan’s sexually abused and mentally limited daughter, who has similarly been rescued by Antonia and Danielle, fall in love and are married. For all of their shortcomings, the couple’s shy approach to one another, and joys for the simple provenance offered by Antonia as their protector, provide an emblem of the nurturing powers in the female household. Audiences squirm with delight as they watch these discarded members of society flourish with embarrassing innocence.

We watch Danielle’s transformation from adolescence to womanhood and find nothing alarming or disconcerting about her lesbianism and her decision to become pregnant without benefit of marriage. Antonia, always acceptant of life’s realities, continues to care for Danielle’s needs by providing emotional and intellectual support in the search for an appropriate man to father the child.

Much later, Danielle’s child is raped by DeeDee’s brother, who had also been raping DeeDee, prior to her rescue from her father’s malevolent and abusive household. Justice is swift. Antonia, magnificent in her outrage, sweeps across the farm and into the village pub where the males are gathered. With rifle pointed at the rapist’s head, she orders him out of town. [Her form of justice is less brutal than that of Danielle, who, having witnessed the rape of DeeDee by the same man, thrusts a pitchfork into his groin.]

Antonia’s farm grows and expands with new life. Seasons come and go, bringing death and rebirth. Happiness and tragedy exist side by side, as exemplified by the opposing viewpoints of Antonia’s positive spirit, and the pessimistic outlook held by Antonia’s life-long friend, Crooked Finger (Mil Seghers), the melancholic, Nietzche-quoting philosopher, who finds life impossible and unbearable. Whether we are watching Antonia’s mother die, or the Catholic Mad Madonna howling at the moon when she should be loving the Protestant man separated from her by the floor in the building they share, or feeling the appreciation of Farmer Daan’s wife’s for Antonia’s strengths--strengths that she herself does not possess--we are woven in the magic of a remarkably simple and yet complex fabric.

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Little Things

Carver, Raymond

Last Updated: Jan-31-1997
Annotated by:
Chen, Irene
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The story opens with an angry quarrel as a man prepares to walk out on his woman. Their hatred for each other manifests itself as a physical struggle over their baby, with each parent pulling on an arm until the baby is apparently severely injured/dead.

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to my friend, jerina

Clifton, Lucille

Last Updated: Dec-10-1996
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The poet addresses Jerina, a friend and confidant who knows the narrator’s story of childhood sexual abuse at the hands--"the silent fingers in the dark"--of her own father. The poet states matter-of-factly that she long ago realized there could be no safety anywhere if there was none at home. As an adult she took refuge in her work and neglected her personal life, but now "the girl [of whom she had been ashamed] is rising in me" and she intends to "have what she / has earned, / sweet sighs, safe houses, / hands she can trust."

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The Book of Mercy

Cambor, Kathleen

Last Updated: Nov-22-1996
Annotated by:
Ratzan, Richard M.

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

The Book of Mercy is a novel in which each member of a family tries to deal, in individually idiosyncratic ways, with his or her abandonment, as a family and as individuals, by their wife/mother.

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Bedrock

Proulx, E. Annie

Last Updated: Oct-21-1996
Annotated by:
Dittrich, Lisa

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A widower, Perley, marries Maureen, a woman four years younger than his daughter. Not long after they are married, Maureen, in cahoots with her brother, begins to emotionally and physically abuse her husband, taking over his land and farm. Perley feels he "deserved what was happening" and cannot fight back. Finally, he does strike out at Maureen’s brother, leaves him unconscious in the kitchen and goes to spend the night in the hayloft. There, he thinks back to his first encounters with Maureen and her brother when they were children, reflecting on the abuse and poverty that dominated their lives and that led, ultimately, to the present crisis.

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Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video

Genre: Film

Summary:

A depressed housewife, Eve White (Joanne Woodward), is brought by her husband (David Wayne) to consult a psychiatrist (Lee J. Cobb) because her behavior has been strange. Although she denies it, she has purchased uncharacteristically seductive clothing and has been singing and dancing in bars.

Her surprised doctor is soon confronted with a different but equally inadequate personality, the sexy Eve Black. He recognizes the case as an example of the rare condition, multiple personality disorder, and embarks on a course of psychotherapy in search of the woman's missing memories.

Eve's unhealthy marriage disintegrates when she chooses to remain in therapy rather than move away with her violent husband. Psychotherapy helps her to the repressed memory of an instance of childhood abuse: being forced by her mother to kiss the corpse of a dead relative. A third personality, that of intelligent, insightful Jane, slowly emerges to replace the other two. Jane establishes a new life with a loving man.

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Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

I have never written against the dead, says the narrator, but in this instance, the death of her grandfather, she must. Why? Because, ominously, "he taught my father/ how to do what he did to me." The poem moves from a startlingly literal image of nursing the nameless dead, to the pocketwatch which was sent as a memento after this particular death, to specific personal memories of mistreatment at the hands of the grandfather. The narrator cannot regret this death.

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