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TRAUMATIC RE-VISIONINGS OF CLASSIC FAIRY TALES: ROBIN MCKINLEYS DEERSKIN AND JANE YOLENS BRIAR ROSE BY ANASTASIA GREENE A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts under the sponsorship of Dr. Jocelyn Van Tuyl Sarasota, Florida April, 2010
ii Acknowledgements I must thank Jocelyn Van Tuyl, who for over a year has been both sounding board and critical eye for this project and who never failed to make me giggle during our meetings. I would also like to thank Amy Reid for her constan t support, wonderful stories, and Qubcois music over the past four years and Wendy Sutherland, who, from the moment I met her, has lent an ear to my ideas about fairy tales. And a special thanks to Jan Wheeler for helping me cut to the chase. I owe an incomparable debt of gratitude to my mothe r, who told me my first story, handed me my first book, and has for as long as I c an remember listened to me argue with myself. And most importantly, thank you Katyyou are the fa iry to my tale.
iii Table of Contents Acknowledgements................................... ................................................... ........................ii Table of Contents.................................. ................................................... ...........................iii Abstract........................................... ................................................... .................................iv Introduction: Beginnings......................................... ................................................... ...............................1 Chapter One: Story and Telling.................................. ................................................... ...........................14 Chapter Two: Reading Tales of Violence.......................... ................................................... ....................31 Chapter Three: Traumatized Tales and Disenchanted Readers......... ................................................... ......43 Conclusion: Endings............................................ ................................................... ...............................53 Works Cited........................................ ................................................... ............................57
iv TRAUMATIC RE-VISIONINGS OF CLASSIC FAIRY TALES: ROBIN MCKINLEYS DEERSKIN AND JANE YOLENS BRIAR ROSE Anastasia Greene New College of Florida, 2010 Abstract This thesis analyzes the representations and impli cations of trauma in two revisionary fairy-tale novels written in the early 19 90s, Jane Yolens Briar Rose and Robin McKinleys Deerskin reworkings of the classic tales Sleeping Beauty i n the Wood and Donkeyskin, respectively. Through close readi ngs of the primary texts, the first chapter examines the transformation of the fairy ta le into a trauma narrative, illustrating how the text is both integrated with the traumatic and opened to active reader roles. The second chapter focuses on the reading experience, i nvestigating the readers multifaceted roles through the application of reader-response th eory and Wolfgang Isers structured blank. Considering the re-visioning of classic tal es as trauma narratives as part of a larger trend of disenchantment, the third chapter e xplores the effect of reader interpretations of Deerskin and Briar Rose on future readings of the classic tales. The thesis concludes by contextualizing the primary tex t within the contemporary discussions surrounding the definition of trauma. __________________________________ Dr. Jocelyn Van Tuyl Division of Humanities
1 Introduction: Beginnings Readers are affected by literature. Fairy tales in particular lend themselves to the task of entertaining and educating readers. Followi ng Bruno Bettelheims assertion that readers, especially young readers, are able to work through psychological ordeals through the reading and interpretation of fairy tales, this thesis will investigate the effects of literary representations of trauma within contempor ary and/or re-visionary fairy tale texts. Connecting trauma theory and reader-response theory, I will apply these approaches to Jane Yolens Briar Rose and Robin McKinleys Deerskin to examine the textual space in which readers may encounter and wo rk with the concept of physical and psychic trauma. My focus is on the relation between authorial-narrative techniques in the re-visioned fairy tales and specific effects on the function and readings of the reader, positing trauma representations and the traumatic e xperience as the focal point. The efficacy of the fairy tale in influencing young readers is not a new idea. Throughout the changing course of history and certa inly in response to it, fairy tales have imparted ideas from morality to rebellion to their audience at the discretion of their authors. These social uses of the fairy tale have v aried over the centuries, making a clear progression that naturally follows the shifts and t urns in social views and values. One modern use of the fairy tale context is a readers encounter with trauma and/or the traumatic experience. By recognizing and illuminati ng, within a textual space, the largely important issue of trauma in everyday life, new tal es that directly address the question of trauma follow a long-standing tradition of fairy ta les providing social and individual education.
2 The Social Uses of Fairy Tales The classic fairy tales of France and Germany focus ed on the socialization of childrenalong with positing many social, political and national ideals. Writers such as Charles Perrault in France and Jakob and Wilhelm Gr imm in Germany were apparently drawn to the fairy tale because it offered them a m ode of writing, a narrative strategy and discourse, to address their concerns about the [ ] civilizing process and the transmission of norms of behavior (Zipes, Art 21). Perraults tales in Histoires ou contes du temps pass along with those of a number of women writers in th e seventeenth-century French salons were created during a shift in social norms concerning the consolidation of monarchical power and a new interest in children as citizens. Children began to be considered as separate from their parents; social s tandards began to emerge with regard to literature written explicitly for a young audience. Perrault then naturally focused his tales to express his views about young people and to prep are them for roles that they idealistically should play in society (Zipes, Art 30). By the nineteenth century, the brothers Jakob and W ilhelm Grimm were also transcribing fairy tales in Germany, which underwen t its own unification period about this time. As the small principalities were brought together under a central power, the Grimms sought not only to socialize the children of their country within the standards of the well-behaved child but also to help unite their country under German ideals by transcribing and making available traditional Germa n tales (Tatar, Hard Facts 12). Once children became subjects of interest, classic fairy tales encouraged them to be wellbehaved and ultimately good citizens (Zipes, Brothers 22).
3 The twentieth century saw more changes in society a nd consequently in the social uses of fairy tales. A myriad of new interpretation s arose. Critics began to note the fairy tales potential for subversion based on its appeal to and agreed-upon affect on a young audience. At the same time, authors began to use th is rebellious potential in their modern fairy tales. The tales that once served to initiate or regulate young people in society began to influence them in the opposite direction with au thors using their tales to encourage readers to find themselves rather than their place in society. Folklorists recognized this change, and fairy tales became valued for their psy chological benefits, particularly with regard to individualization. Bruno Bettelheim, at t he forefront of this change in fairy tale studies, wrote The Uses of Enchantment in which he makes adamant assertions that children need tales to build their identity and to play out many complex psychological situations. In this way, fairy tales have great ps ychological meaning for children of all ages going through various developmental crises (B ettelheim 17). As they are appropriate for different ages, the psychological b enefits of fairy tales are also available to both girls and boys regardless of the gender of the protagonist (17). A boy at age six can identify with the female protagonist from The Six Swans or a young girl of twelve can associate with the male protagonist from The D evil and His Three Golden Hairs without hindrance to the great psychological meani ng of the tales. The 1970s onward saw a trend of feminist interpreta tions of classic tales that also credited their psychological benefits, particularly those of self-identification. In feminist interpretations, tales were either condemned for th eir portrayal of the passive female or reinterpreted to argue against this same passivity to recognize and avoid the potentially harmful effect such representations may have on a y oung audience searching to anchor
4 their identity. Contemporary tales such as Jane Yol ens Sleeping Uglywhich undermines the notion of physical beauty correspond ing to inner beauty when the prince chooses Plain Jane with her heart of gold over Prin cess Miserella with her heart of stoneor Robert Munschs The Paper Bag Princessi n which gender roles are reversed as the princess must rescue her prince fro m a dragon and in the end decides not to marry himworked against the stereotypical portr ait of the damsel-in-distress. Instead, they present young male and female readers with strong female characters who show little interest in a happily-ever-after that r equires their subjugation to a man. Continuing this movement of reinterpretation, autho rs began refocusing, rewriting, and re-visioning classic tales and continue to do so to day. These re-visions are done in different ways as described by the two works mentio ned above and many more. This thesis will address a corpus of contemporary works that refocuses classic-tale plots and analyze their power to influence and educate a youn g audience by demarginalizing past omissions of violence and particularly violent acts against women. In classic-tale structure, the protagonists begin t heir adventure in a home from which they are eventually rejected due to parental jealousy, the need to perform a quest or challenge, or simple curiosity. The protagonists go from the first home to the forest or the location of maturation: Snow White is forced from h er first home with her father and stepmother into the forest where she lives and grow s up in the dwarfs house. Having matured in one way or anotherby demonstrating mora lity, for example, or satisfactorily completing a questthe protagonists then are eithe r rewarded with a new home with a spouse and possibly a family, or return to and revi se their previous homes, making ameliorations with their new skills. In this equati on, violent acts function as a catalyst, a
5 shove that forces a protagonist out of the first ho me and into the world where he or she must grow and mature. Snow White runs into the fore st when her stepmother orders her to be killed; the young boy in The Juniper Tree t ransforms into a bird temporarily after his family cooks and eats him; Sleeping Beauty fall s into a hundred-year transformative sleep after pricking her finger (Tatar, Brothers 210, 234, 243). Yet for all the seemingly inherent violence in the tales, the act itself is almost always omitted or written around. The huntsman in Snow White decides at the last minute not to follow his queens orders, although S now White is still banished. Similarly, in Perraults Donkeyskin, the incest that forces the protagonist to leave her home in shame is merely implied in an effort to maintain pr opriety or biensance which in seventeenth-century France would have been necessar y to maintain an aesthetic and an ethical standard of morality for the audience. Clas sic tales, then, omit the violent acts that spark the narratives and focus instead on the injur y done, that is, the result of the trauma: Sleeping Beautys nap, for instance. Shame, fear, p ain, or death became the push for the protagonist to leave the home; the violence that ca uses them is ignored and marginalized in order to observe propriety. By the 1970s, not only had the notion of propriety changed, but authors certainly feminist authors also no longer had an i nterest in protecting their audience from the improper. Indeed women writers such as Ang ela Carter, Robin McKinley, Marina Warner, and Jane Yolen turned the focus of t heir fairy tales to stare impropriety straight in the face. Violenceespecially violence against womenfunctions in these authors re-visioned tales in much the same way as in classic tales: as a catalyst for the protagonist to leave the home. However, rather than take pains to omit unpleasant details
6 and keep a readers mind far off such uncomfortable issues such as violence that force a child from their home, these twentieth-century auth ors intended their works for the exact opposite effect. Their tales omissions of an expli cit description of the violent act creates a gap in the texts that works not to make readers i gnore the violence but rather to draw their attention to itthe glaring hole in the fairy tale text that cannot be ignored. This thesis will analyze two fairy talesJane Yolens Briar Rose and Robin McKinleys Deerskin that give primary consideration to the silenced or marginalized issue of violence and the novels interplay with readers. Briar Rose is based on the French and German fairy tale of S leeping Beauty in the Wood or Briar Rose. The story, divided into two parts, the Home and the Castle, is divided further by flashbacks when Gemma tells her version of Briar Rose to her three granddaughters. The times when Gemma tells the stor y alternate with the present-day story. Home In the present day, Gemma's Jewish family is living somewhere outside a city in the United States. After her grandmother's death, B ecca Berlin, the youngest of the three granddaughters, begins to believe that there is som e meaning behind the bedtime story that her grandmother told to them hundreds of times She consults Stan, a good friend and journalist who works for an alternative newspaper a nd who uncovers historical facts for her. She discovers that her grandmother was actuall y a survivor of the Holocaust who was persecuted for her Polish nationality and Jewis h belief and sent to Chenmno extermination camp to be executed. Becca sets off f or Poland to find the truth of the
7 identity and the life of her grandmother. She visit s Chelmno and discovers a link with Josef Potocki, a Holocaust survivor. The Castle In Poland, Josef tells the story of his life during the Holocaust and of his meeting with Gemma. Originally also a target because of his homosexuality, he became a fugitive, meeting different people, mainly partisans, in Germ any. He had heard stories of the torture and the extermination camps and joined an u nderground group set out to rescue victims. This mission led him to Chelmno (Kulmhof i n German), where he witnessed the gassing to death of the people in front of him. Whe n he saw the bodies of the people dumped, he noticed that a woman with red hairGemma was still alive and breathing faintly. He used CPR to revive her: the woman (who is later called Ksiniczka, which means princess in Polish) referred to this revival in her fairy tale as the kiss of life. Ksiniczka fell in love with Josef's comrade Aron Mandl estein, called the Avenger, and as they are attacked by the Nazis, who are hunt ing the group down, Ksiniczka married Aron, taking on the new name Gitl Mandleste in, which she used as her name on her passport to America after Aron died. Home Again The final part of the book is simply a conclusion w here Becca returns to the U.S. to tell Stan and her family about what she discover ed. At the airport, Stan is there to pick her up. He kisses her, and he says the words We'll get to happily ever after eventually. Yolen adds an authors note that identifies her nov el and the story of Gemma as a fairy
8 tale because to her knowledge no woman ever survive d or escaped the extermination camp of Chelmno. Robin McKinleys Deerskin is a much longer novel that follows a young girl through many terrible trials. At the opening of the book, McKinley also offers an authors note in which she cites Perraults Donkeyskin as the beginning or inspiration for her tale. Deerskin relates the story of Princess Lissla Lissar (calle d Lissar), the daughter of the most beautiful queen and most handsome king in all the seven kingdoms. She is neglected both by her parents and the court, whose attention is focused on the splendid king and queen. Without friends, Lissar devotes her self to her dog, Ash. Lissar's mother falls ill and begins to lose her be auty (the order of these events is unclear); she also loses her will to live, because she wants to be remembered as the most beautiful person, and nothing less. She sends for a rtists from all the kingdoms, and eventually one is chosen to paint a portrait of her as she was before her illness. After the painting is complete, she forces the king to swear that he will only remarry if he can find a bride with more beauty than that which is capture d in her portrait. After he agrees, she dies. Part One This condition seems impossible to meet until Lissa r begins to grow up. As she matures, Lissar becomes not just the image of her m other, but more beautiful than both her parents. The king becomes obsessed with his dau ghter and insists that he will marry her. Lissar refuses and locks herself in a room. Ev entually, the king finds a way into the room, rapes Lissar, and almost kills her beloved do g, Ash. Lissar and Ash escape from
9 the king and find their way to a cabin in the mount ains. Lissar, impregnated by her father the king, miscarries and nearly dies. She is saved by a moon goddess, who gives her a white deerskin dress and alters both Lissar and Ash so that they are unrecognizable: Lissars hair changes from black to white, and Ash grows a longer coat. As another gift, the goddess gives Lissar time to heal, making her s leep and forget what happened to her. Part Two Lissar travels to a different kingdom and offers to work for the king. The goddess's alterations, however, were more than phys ical. Lissar, now known as Deerskin, discovers that she has supernatural powers, includi ng the ability to find lost children. She falls in love with the prince, Ossin, and he with h er, but, still burdened by her past, she flees when Ossin proposes to her. After spending th e winter recovering in the same small cabin where she escaped her father, Deerskin feels compelled to return to Ossin's city. As she nears the city, she hears about a wedding an d assumes that it is Ossin's. To her horror however, she realizes that her father is going to marry Ossin's younger sister. Deerskin reveals her true identity as the groom's d aughter and calls her father to account for his actions, using the goddess's powers to puni sh him for his crimes. The story ends with Lissar, free from her past, tentatively coming back to Ossin's arms, willing to try a relationship with him. Writing and Reading Trauma This thesis will examine works from a corpus of re written and re-visioned fairy tales that put violence center stage. These reinter pretations, of course, were not the only
10 movement of re-vision with regard to violence and i ts effects. Feminism raised questions about violence against women and the fact that the trauma of such experiences was often ignored or devaluedquestions that sparked a reexam ination of the definition of trauma in both literary and psychological communities. During the 1980s and early 1990s, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders III and III-R trauma was defined as an event or events that stand outside the range of normal human experience becaus e of their overwhelming violence and rare occurrence in any one individuals life. D ue to this sudden overload, the individual is not able to fully realize or consciou sly understand the event at the time. The traumatic experience, then, was understood as an ex tended process working to assimilate the overwhelming event; this process must be comple ted for an individuals return to healthy functioning post-trauma. As feminism deman ded fresh perspectives in almost every corner of study, this definition also was ree xamined, to the dissatisfaction of many. An event outside normal human experience was simp ly not good enough. What of the women who suffer domestic violence every day? Their range of normal experience contains a great deal more violence than most, but that does not mean their experiences are not traumatic (Caruth, Trauma 6-7). Cathy Caruth took a strong initiative in this argu ment for revision of the definition of trauma and in the further development of trauma theory. Following the tradition of Sigmund Freud, Caruth turned to literature in her d iscussions of trauma. In her anthology on the subject, Caruth states that trauma is descr ibed as the response to an unexpected or overwhelming violent event or events that are not f ully grasped as they occur, but return later in repeated flashbacks, nightmares, and other repetitive phenomena ( Unclaimed 91).
11 Literature lends itself well to the description of trauma and/or the traumatic experience because literature [ ] is interested in the comple x relation between knowing and not knowing (3) and because repetitive phenomena are r eadily translated to repeating images or figures in a text. The role of the audience or reader is both fluid a nd essential in the understanding of trauma and its representation in literature resp ectively. Strongly linked to Freuds talking curea therapeutic technique that offers pa tients a return to normal psychic function by releasing through narration their repre ssed thoughts and emotions as well as symptoms such as somatization or insomniatrauma th eory comments on the importance of the audience that bears witness. The audience must bear witness not merely to the traumatic event but also to the proce ss of nearly unbearable repetition: At the core of these stories [of trauma ] is a kind of double telling [ ,] the story of the unbearable nature of an event and the story of the unbearable nature of its survival (Caruth, Unclaimed 7). The witness receives these stories, fractured or whole, and must process them in turn. The representation of trauma in literature require s much the same attention from its readers, who must similarly bear witness to bot h the history of the traumatic events and the story of the traumatic experience. However, by following a character through these stories, the trauma narrative requires even m ore of the readers. A useful adjunct to trauma representation in literature, then, are the theories of Wolfgang Iser and other reader-response theorists. Iser emphasizes that the relationship between text and reader results in more than direct internalization of prin ted word; it is an active interplay, a dynamic interaction during which a reader not only reads but actually experiences a
12 text (Iser 107). As such, the trauma narrative call s for a dynamic reading, in which the reader and the reading experience are affected by t he assumption of multiple active roles within the text. Thesis Overview This thesis will explore the implications of the l iterary focus on trauma for fairytale text and reader alike. The first chapter will investigate specific authorial techniques that transition the fairy tale to a trauma narrativ e. I will analyze narrative structure, focalization, and aspects of timespecifically dura tion and frequencythrough close readings of both re-visionary texts, showing how th e authors craft both the loss of personal narrative and the search for it within the text. As a result of the techniques employedincluding the consideration of reader resp onse Deerskin and Briar Rose are opened and conditioned to reader interaction. Once drawn into the newly opened text, the reader is compelled to adopt certain active roles. In the second chapter of this thesis, I will use Wolfgang Isers readerresponse theory and the structured blank to exami ne these roles. I will also investigate the effect reader engagement with a trauma narrativ e has on the reading experience of the re-visioned talesparticularly transitions within t he text which lead to a multifaceted reading. In the third and final chapter, I will consider th e re-visioning of classic fairy tales as trauma narratives as part of a larger trend of d isenchantmentin which supernatural forces are exchanged for elements of realityand ex plore the subsequent textual and readerly effects. With the fairy tale opened to rea dings beyond the traditional
13 interpretationsparticular allegorical readings and those of the uncanny experienceI will examine a third interpretation which combines these two readings with highly provocative results.
14 Chapter One: Story and Telling Narrative is most basically defined as a purposiv e communicative account of events in a story and/or the art of narrationa pr ovocative definition as it suggests that a narrative must have a purpose beyond the relation of events (Herman 203). In this chapter, I will investigate the purpose behind the representation of trauma in stories otherwise categorized as fantasy, specifically Deerskin and Briar Rose As far as the psychological community is concerned, the traumatic experience and the narrative go hand-in-hand not only in terms of representation bu t also in terms of curative techniquesnamely the talking cure. The novels are indicative of this relationship and reveal, in their construction, a close link to the issue of trauma and the issue of relating a trauma narrative. The ways in which the texts work and whythat is, the techniques the authors have employedthey work as purposive commun ication parallel themes of demarginalization: the center-staging of womens is sues, in this case, violence against women. Many story-telling techniques often noted in narra tive theory can serve an authors purpose in creating and relating a story t hat doubles as a trauma narrative. Psychological theories on trauma, particularly incl uding the still currently-used talking cure theory, insist that narrationthat is the disc overy, organization, and expression of ones storyis a crux in both the experience of and recovery from trauma. In a discussion of the various responses to a traumatic event, Freud says that, in order to survive psychic or physical trauma, the mind will g o through instinctive skewing processes, in which the event is blocked, suppresse d, or reconfigured in an attempt to
15 protect the conscious mind (Berman 23). Repression is one of the most common occurrences and the censoring process that is most identifiable both in Deerskin and in Briar Rose Freud equates repression with a loss of narrative in which individuals are unable to articulate or even identify parts or the entirety of their history. Time is also a key player in the traumatic experie nce: the time following the event, during which the mind maneuvers perception a nd memory to protect itself, and the passage of time after the event, during which the p reviously initiated coping mechanisms are employed. The latter, although essential to an individuals survival of trauma, eventually turns to the opposite, and the saving gr ace that was repression becomes a source of unrest as the mind produces dreams, flash backs, and other repetitive phenomena returning the individual to the trauma th at can no longer be ignored (Caruth, Unclaimed 12). In a discussion of his talking cure, Freud re lates this change over time of the function of processes like repression to the se arch for the lost narrative: the cure itself is the literal articulation or narration of the tra uma by the individual. Thus, we find in McKinleys Deerskin and Yolens Briar Rose an organization similar to that of detective fiction. By definition the detective or mystery is a double narrative: the story of a previous crime or event a nd the story of the detective attempting to discover it. In these rewritten tales, the detec tive-protagonist is searching for a lost identity and/or a lost history represented by a cla ssic tale: Becca searches for her grandmothers history in Briar Rose and, in Deerskin Lissar searches for her own history. Along with the mystery-story presentation, the authors employ the narrative tool of time to serve double as a device to create suspe nseanother defining attribute of the mystery storyand further link the re-visioned fair y tales to the traumatic experience
16 (Todorov Poetics 45-8). In the following sections, I will investiga te the relationship between the function of timenamely duration and or derin the narration of Deerskin and Briar Rose and the function of time in the traumatic narrativ e/experience. Ellipsis: the Loss of Narrative The function of time in Robin McKinleys Deerskin relates directly to the crucial moments that follow a traumatic event. Near the end of Part One, the protagonist Lissar is beaten and raped by her father, the king; her dog i s nearly killed trying to defend her, and she wants nothing more than to die. But she does no t die; she survives. The opening of Part Two and the entirety of Chapter Ten are devote d to the detailed and excruciating process of Lissar standing up and leaving her room. More specifically, she returns to consciousness with an unshakeable denial or fear of access to the previous ordeal of her rape. This process is one eventboth the result of a violent act and the beginning of Lissars escape into the mountainsthat relates to the overarching narrative of the novel: a temporal relationship between the elemental mater ials of a narrative and the presentation of those elementstermed histoire and rcit ( fabula and sujet ) respectively by theorists such as Grard Genettethat reveals im portant aspects of an individual scene and the narrative as a whole (Herman 53). The duration of this eventthe whole of Chapter Tenpoints to the frequency of Lissars hal ting process of return to awareness. With each piece of the process, each separate decis ion to open her eyes or move her limbs or stand, Lissar builds more and more mental barriers around her mind, effectively repressing the memory of her rape and her entire pa st as a princess. This loss of her
17 personal narrative is of integral importance to the story as a whole as Lissar spends the remainder of the novel trying to get her narrative her pastback. Lissars regaining of consciousness is slow and re luctant; her thoughts and decisions are based more on instinct than reason, a nd even Lissar does not have or want full access to an understanding of her situation. A t this point, the narration slips between a third-person narrator and free indirect discourse which can have multiple addresseeswithin Lissars internal monologue: Lissar knew they [she and her dog] dared not stay w here they were. They dared not because no, they simply dared not. She need not remember why; the instant choking crush of panic told her as much as she needed to know. And then there w as the wind; there was a cold windthe door must be open, the ou tside door to the gardenand she was naked and bloody on a bed th at no longer had any comfort to give. (89) Lissars internal monologue begins with a staggered attempt to find a reason for her instinctual fear of remaining in the room where she has found herself naked and bloody. She knows they dare not stay, but as to why, thre e dots of elliptic consideration are given and then an immediate shut-down of the though t process: they simply dared not, and she need not remember why. Instead, we see Li ssars reason focus away from herself, turning to her physical surroundings and u sing them as a substitute. After refusing to think about why she dares not stay stil l, she substitutes the cold wind as a sufficient reason to require departure. She loops b ack, however, to her physical conditionwhich is tightly linked to the event that she refuses to acknowledgeby considering the danger of remaining in a cold wind when she is naked and bloody on a bed.
18 The ellipses are significant because the blanks in thought which they represent are repeated in the greater narrative as Lissar denies herself full access to her past so that she is able to function in the present and move forward with her life. After Lissar moves to another kingdom under a new identity, Deerskin, she is often reminded of her past. Each time, she refuses to recall her memory fully, afrai d of the warning in her mind that her past is horrible. Lissar feels a constant tension b etween the burden of her past and its effect on her present situation and her future in t he new kingdom. In the same way that Lissar battles with her mind in Chapter Ten not to think about her assault, she fights against her memory throughout the rest of the novel : first struggling to keep her past repressed and later trying to recall it. We see this broken and fearful reasoning process a gain and again as Lissar moves slowly from one thought to another in Chapter Ten. While Lissar fights to focus her attention on each side decision she must make, incl uding the decision to move her own body, we also see a repetition of the slip in narra tion from third-person to free indirect discourse: If [the door] was open, then [her] room was no long er safe, for someone could come straight through the garden door and then to the door; anyone no, she would not think of it. But there was something about the door she did need to think abou t, although it was hard so hard her mind would not settle to the t ask, but kept trying to run away, threatening to escape into the strength-sapping nothingness again; what was it she needed to rememb er? That it was cold. [ ] If she shut [the door], she would be warmer. (90) Here, again, we see Lissars attempt to reason shut down the moment it turns back to the acts of violence that precede her present condition : someone could come straight
19 through [ ] the door; anyone no, she would not thin k of it. However, she cannot close out the thought completely. The same door that must be shut to keep out the someone who could come straight through and about whom s he would not think must be shut for another reason: it was cold. A new difficulty, the problem of memory, is introd uced here as well. Lissars mind refuses to acknowledge her rape and keeps try ing to run away [ ] to escape into [ ] nothingness again even as she tries to remembe r the task she must perform with the doorthat is, simply closing it. After struggling a gainst herself, she finally remembers: it is cold; cold is physically dangerous to her, she m ust close the door to stop the cold and survive. What Lissar eventually calls her memory g uardians insist on suppressing all thoughts and memories that do not specifically pert ain to survival (102). However, Lissar is not able to separate the necessity of survival f rom the event that put her survival at risk. This difficulty is also seen in the narrative as a whole when thoughts of her new home and new identity bring up repressed thoughts of the person she was in her previous home and why she had to leave it. Throughout the novel, therefore, Lissar finds herself constantly negotiating between recalling what she m ust do to survive and not recalling why she must do it. In a final instance of this repeated process, we s ee the problems of Lissars memory exacerbated and the danger of Lissar recogni zing what has been done to her body. The line between third-person narration and L issars personal monologue is nearly indiscernible as Lissar tries to hold off the conne ction between her current condition, her future survival, and her preceding rape:
20 If I put on some clothes, I wouldnt have to risk s eeing myself. She managed to hold the thought despite the immediate t umult in her mind (Dont look! Dont look! Dont even think abou t looking or not looking! Just do it!). [ C]lothes would also be warmer. And wasnt that why shed decided to stand up in the fi rst place? She couldnt remember. (91) Lissar has little if any control over her own mind and clearly finds it difficult to see to her physical needs and simultaneously satisfy her mind s demand for denial. She is ordered not to acknowledge her physical condition: Dont l ook! Dont even think about looking or not looking! This section of her thought proces s is one of many in which Lissar, choosing to take action, must struggle with her sel f to keep certain memories subdued but still retain the thought of what she needs to do: t o recognize that she is naked and that her naked body is beaten, bruised, and bloody. The freq uency of this type of process in a single chapterwhich itself is a long durative desc ription of Lissar standing up and leaving her roomdemonstrates the importance of eac h step that Lissar takes in her reasoning to the larger narrative. According to Genette, duration and frequency are b oth temporal relationships between any narrative events and their presentation that emphasize scene aspects in terms of the narrative as a whole (Herman 54). Chapter Te n in Deerskin highlights Lissars faltering thought process in dealing with her past her desire for denial and difficulty in maintaining her denialby presenting frequent examp les of her reasoning process throughout the detailed description of her departur e from her room. However, the process presented and emphasized here is not a mere reflect ion of the storyline; it is the process of Lissar willfully losing her past, her identity, and her personal narrative.
21 The space of time that follows a traumatic event, such as Lissars rape by her father, is crucial to the victim. The assimilation or understanding of the event is not possible as it takes place, but this process can be gin right away if support is available to the victim. Lissar has none. She pulls away from th e trauma and focuses on her physical survival. The two, of course, are not exclusive, in deed they are tightly linked, and Lissar or Lissars conscious mind must block and repress n ot only the rape and assault but her entire history to move forwardto stand up and leav e her room. The loss of her narrative is inevitable and essential to her continued physic al and mental survival, culminating later in the novel when she is put to sleep by a mo on goddess for five years before she sets out with her new identity and lack of history. Repetition: the Search for Narrative The discussion of time in Jane Yolens Briar Rose is a discussion of narrative structure: the flashbacks or analepses that alterna te with the present-day storyline and the emphasis on repetition in both the past and present narratives. Reading is a combination of memory and anticipation. As emphasized by Genett e and later by Meir Sternberg, a readers focus on whatever moment in the text she h as reached will invariably be colored by her memory of what has gone before and her antic ipation of what is to come. The order in which events are presented in the text is therefore crucial to our temporal experience of narrative (Herman 57). The analepses basic narrative devices used to provide important information about a characters p ast by taking the reader into that pastthen form an integral relationship between Bec cas story told in the present and her grandmother Gemmas Briar Rose narrative told in th e past. The first chapter and the
22 subsequent odd-numbered chapters in the Home sect ion of the novel present Gemmas version of Briar Rose, that is, Gemma telling the story to Becca at various moments during Beccas childhood. The even-numbered chapter s relate Beccas narrative in the present day; because the present day does not comme nce until Chapter Two, the reader does not initially recognize that the first chapter is an analepsis. Beccas function in the novel is to ask questions. As a nave child, she questions her grandmother on certain aspects of the Briar Ros e story; she grows up to become a reporter and uses her skills to investigate her gra ndmothers history. The juxtaposition of the twothe child Becca talking to her grandmother and the adult Becca playing detectiveallows for a qualification of the past wi th information from the present that provides hints as to the nature of Gemmas Briar Ro se story and her own life story: [The king threw] a terrifically big party. With ca ke and ice cream and golden plates. And not to mention invitations s ent to all the good fairies in the kingdom. But not the bad fairy, [said Becca.] Gemma pulled the child closer to her. Not the bad fairy. Not the one in black with big black boots and silver eagles on her hat. (Yolen 27) Assuming foreknowledge of the original Briar Rose by the Grimms or of Sleeping Beauty in the Wood by Perrault, readers immediatel y note the difference between the originals and Gemmas opening: Gemmas bad fairy h as big black boots and silver eagles on her hat. By asking questions as a child, Becca encourages her grandmother to drop, perhaps inadvertently, hints and clues as to the significance of Briar Rose in Gemmas life. Significant it must be as Gemma repea ts the tale over and over whenever a story is requested during Beccas childhood. Becca even gives the eagles consideration in
23 her investigation, linking them and the black boots to the Nazi soldiers in Poland Gemmas home country. Once the idea of Holocaust survival is introduced by Becca in the present-day narrative, it immediately influences the readers p erception of the previous flashbacks and those that follow. For instance, during a flash back in which she is reciting the Briar Rose story to her grandmother, Becca asks Gemma for clarification: When princess Briar Rose was seventeen, one day and without furth er warning [ ] a mist covered the entire kingdom. Whats a mist (Yolen 46)? Gemma re plies by giving Becca examples: A fog. An exhaust (46). Satisfied with the respon se, Becca continues reciting the story. However, readers and eventually the adult Becca see this moment of quick explanation as a clue. The specific relation Gemma makes between t he mist in her fairy tale and an exhaust and the emphasis on the hundred-year sleep that strikes good, bad, young, and old provides the reader another piece of Gemmas li fe mediated through her retelling of the Briar Rose tale. The adult Beccas questions culminate in her locat ing Josef Potocki in Poland and asking him to tell her his survival story, which in tersects with Gemmas story. Josef explains that, despite his powerful friends and lov ers, he was eventually sent to a camp, which he escaped, then, he joined a resistance grou p. Compelled to act against the Nazis, the group monitors the extermination camp called Ch elmno. From the cover of trees, they watch as a van dumps bodies into a mass grave every day; one night, they make their way over in an attempt to rescue anyone still breathing : one of the living and the only one who survives more than few days is the young Gemma. She cannot tell them her name or the
24 name of her home, only her story of Briar Rose, whi ch she repeats incessantly; as a result, Josef gives her the name Ksiniczka, meaning princess. Readers are compelled to piece together the Holoca ust survival story that is mediated through Gemmas version of Briar Rose as the novel alternates between Beccas narrative in the present day and Gemmas re citation of her tale in the past. The flashbacks become clearer as a representation after Josef presents his story, which is itself a flashback from the present-day narrative in which Becca asks him to give her information about her grandmother. Repetitive flashbacks reveal Gemmas story: the fl ashbacks, however, are inevitably incomplete since Becca and readers are s till unaware of Gemmas life before she was found in the mass grave. The incessant repe tition of the tale demonstrates the importance of the narrative to Gemmas survival as a trauma victim. [T]he survival of trauma is not the fortunate passage beyond a violen t event, [ ] but rather the endless inherent necessity of repetition, which manifest in repeated flashb acks, nightmares, and other repetitive phenomena (Caruth, Unclaimed 63, 91, my emphasis). Gemma repeats this story throughout her life, even on what is ess entially her deathbed, saying I am Briar Rose. She clings to the tale, the narrative that b ears witness to her experience during the Holocaust and that represents both the only remaini ng piece of Gemmas personal history after her trauma and possibly the only survival sto ry from the extermination camp at Chelmno.
25 Focalization Normally, the narrator is the functio nal agent who verbalizes a narratives nonverbal matter. However, in the interest of direc tness, the text has a level of communicationwhat Genette terms focalization or vo icebeyond that of exposition and narrator intervention (Herman 96). Rather than relying (solely) on a narrator, the narrative is determined by the filtering and colori ng devices of the mind of the reflector, the character whose point of view orients the narr ative perspective; the reader, seeing through the reflectors eyes, becomes a witness ra ther than the narrators communicative addressee (96-7). Although Deerskin has a third-person narrator, the novel positions t he narrative through the perspective of Lissar as the reflector. This utilization of internal focalization serves the authors purpose in creatin g a text that reveals the unnarrated. In Chapter Ten of Deerskin readers rely on Lissars perspective and interpretation of her surroundings to move forward in the narrative. Her experience after her rape is slow and excruciating as readers witnes s her thought processes suppressing her memory until she can no longer recall her entir e personal history. After she escapes from her father into the mountains and while trying to survive the winter with hardly any food, Lissar has a moment of revelationthat is, a staggered recollection of who she is and the realization that she is pregnantthat sends her into a blind panic and causes her to miscarry. Somewhere between a dream and a vision the moon goddess speaks to Lissar and helps her, healing not only her body fro m the miscarriage and assault but also her mind from the destructive pain of memory. Lissa r awakens from this encounter with an altered physical appearance, a white deerskin dr ess, and no injuries or memories of her horrific experience (McKinley 115-9).
26 This focalization through Lissars pe rspective positions the narrative as a psychological allegorya representation of a psycho logical process, namely repression. Repression, as a coping mechanism, is the omission of anything associated with the traumatic eventin this case, Lissars assault and rape. What the reader sees in Chapter Ten and subsequent chapters of Deerskin is the process of repression, the loss of narrativ e that Lissar must work to retrieve as the novel prog resses. Demonstrated by her meticulous decision processes just after her rape a nd represented by the supernatural powers of the goddess who visits her, Lissars repr ession of her traumatic experience is presented through her perspective, but it is not di rectly narrated because the loss is precisely what is omitted from her personal narrati ve, what is left unnarrated. The Briar Rose structure functions in much the same way with the o scillation between the present-day narrative and flashbacks cr eating a varied internal focalization. Gemma is revealed slowly to readers in the past eve n as Becca begins her search for Gemmas identity in the present. Little by little, as Becca discovers the context of her grandmothers historyEurope during the Holocaustr eaders begin to piece together the true story behind Gemmas not-quite-right fairy tale. Each discrepancy between the original tale and Gemmas version of Briar Rose b ecomes more and more clearly a link to Gemmas experience in the Holocaust with descrip tions of fairies in black boots and hats with eagles, the comparison of the mist coveri ng Briar Roses castle to an exhaust, and the references to thorns as sharp as barbs. Thi s detective work, played out by both Becca and the reader, culminates with Josef Potocki s story of his experience during the Holocaust, which intersects with Gemmas story when Josef and others rescue her from the mass grave at the Chelmno extermination camp. From that point forward, Gemma
27 has only the Briar Rose tale to represent her perso nal history, including her trauma at Chelmno. This variable focalization creates a driven suspens e that compels the reader to follow each storylineeven as the present-day narra tive and analepses interrupt each otherand to put together the puzzle of Gemmas lif e. Back and forth among Gemma telling a tale in the past which the reader knows i s an altered version of Briar Rose, Becca asking questions in the present of the connec tion between her grandmothers tale and her grandmothers life, and finally Josef prese nting a revelationalbeit an incomplete oneabout Gemmas experience during the Holocaust: the text plays on this anticipation and desire to know to push the narrati ve(s) to a different level. Giving voice to the omitted element of the narrative is not only Gemmas personal story but also the story of survival at Chelmno; in her authors note, Yolen explains that she is unaware of any record of a woman surviving the Polish extermin ation camp. Briar Rose then, ends up fulfilling a didactic function that provides not only the narrative of a personal trauma story but also the historical trauma of the Holocau st experience at Chelmnoalso unnarrated as there were no female survivors to tel l their stories. Opening the Text The re-visioning of a tale is no simple matter, ne ither in action nor in purpose. The interaction between text and reader is designed and structured by authorial narrative techniques. Umberto Eco insists that by making the presumed interpretation of a text by a reader a part of the generative process of a text, that text becomes open with direct and necessary dialogue with its reader (Eco 17). Essent ially, the authors are opening their
28 texts up to interaction but provide guides, even bo undaries, for that interaction within the text itself. The foreseen interpretations vital to Yolens Briar Rose and McKinleys Deerskin are, of course, directly related to the classic ta lesSleeping Beauty in the Wood and Donkeyskin respectivelyfrom which the authors have derived their novels. The authors expectations of their readers are based on the readers knowledge of the classic tales; Yolen and McKinley create open t exts by re-visioning and manipulating classic fairy tales. Their purposes in retelling th ese tales become clear when we examine the way the authors retell them. The variations on the classic tales are indicative of theme of unsilencing the issue of violence, particularly against women. The changes made by both authors rely on the reade rs return to the classic tales: the variations mean very little if readers are unaw are of them. Yolen assumes previous knowledge of Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, and eve n if the reader were to try to accept Gemmas version of the tale, Yolen highlights the i ncorrect elements by having the young Becca question her grandmother and the adult Becca investigate the story as a whole. The differences between Gemmas version and the original tale are, of course, where the purpose in re-visioning the fairy tale li es: the representation of a personal trauma and the didactic function of representing an untold Holocaust survival story. McKinleys method is slightly different. Still cont ingent upon the classic tale, Donkeyskin, McKinleys novel provides the tale ra ther than assuming foreknowledge of it. Part One of the novel is a fleshed-out versi on of the original tale and the entire personal history of the main character, Lissar. The rest of the novel is, in essence, Lissars search for her lost history, hence the vit al return to the provided original tale.
29 The represented psychological trauma narrative hing es upon the relationship between the original tale and Lissar's new identity. Readers are not only meant to interact with the te xt but also have guidelines for their interaction: they meet with an agenda of dema rginalization as they read and recognize the re-visioning techniques and purposes. The buildup of anticipation and suspense, the cultivation of the readers desire to know draws attention to the missing pieces of the narrativesthe pieces of the puzzle t he reader wants to find and fill in. We want to know what happened to Gemma during her expe rience in the Holocaust, how it relates to her slightly altered version of the Sle eping Beauty in the Wood fairy tale. We want to see the moment when Lissar at last allows h erself to remember and reconciles her assumed identityDeerskinwith her horrific past as a princess violated by her father. The omitted elements of the narrative, therefore, b ecome spotlighted. The unnarrated violence becomes the consuming focus of these re-vi sioned tales, and the most effective narrative device that incites reader engagement wit h the text is the ellipsis or textual gap. In Deerskin Lissars coping mechanisms, which take over direc tly after her assault, and the process of repression are represented by broken thought patterns and ellipses: [Lissar and Ash] dared not because...no they simply dared not. She need not remember why (McKinley 89, my emphasis). Similarly, in Briar Rose the textual gap between Gemmas story and Beccas understanding cannot be fully clo sed because only Gemma herself has access to the Briar Rose tale as the story of her past. In both novels, then, the traumatic event is evident through its effect in the textell ipses, gaps, and other pieces with which readers engagebut it is also precisely that which is left unsaid.
30 Conclusion The narrative devices employed by the authors to r e-vision the fairy tales have multiple purposes. Apart from designing the texts t o compel reader interaction with the new versions of the tales, the authors accomplish a n ulterior goal. The purposive communication of their narratives is a readers int eraction with the text as a tale and as a represented traumatic experience. Employing narrati ve devices such as focalization, suspense, analepsis, and ellipsis, Yolen and McKinl ey bring the reader face to face with the specifically unnarrated elements of the narrati ve. The themes of the texts demarginalization and unsilencingturn the focus an d purpose of the texts to necessitating the readers engagement and active pa rticipation with the omitted violent acts and their repercussions.
31 Reading Tales of Violence Communication in literature is an active interplay between a text and a reader. Although prefigured by the texts structure, the re ception of a texts information or presented story depends as much on the reader as on the text. Reading is not a direct internalization because it is not a one-way process , states Wolfgang Iser, describing the reading process as a dynamic interaction between te xt and reader (107). As readers, we do not merely internalize words on a page. Instead, we engage in communication with a text that is necessarily left open-ended, and throu gh its influence, make our own interpretations. This clear dependence on the intri cacies of the reader-text relationship begs the question: what happens to that relationshi p and the communication it facilitates when the text in question is re-visioned? The re-visioning of a fairy tale can refer to many changes, most involving some form of expansion. Briar Rose and Deerskin specifically follow the tradition of novelization, that is the expansion of Sleeping Be auty in the Wood and Donkeyskin respectively into full-length novels. Unlike change s such as gender-role reversal or the reorganization of plot, the novelization of a fairy tale is by definition a transition between genres. This shift from the fairy tale to the novel most notably involving expansion of plot and development of character, manipulates the way in which the text operates and necessitates a change in the reader-text interactio n. One such change in the text, and perhaps the most significant to this chapter, is th e inclusion of purposeful ambiguities
32 something Mikhail Bakhtin attributes to all novels and terms openendedness for its dialogic implications (7). To facilitate reader interaction, the novelized tex tright down to its individual sentencesmust contain indeterminacies. While the m ere expansion of plot increases opportunity for reader engagement, one specific lit erary device employed is the insertion of gaps in the text, which Wolfgang Iser calls str uctured blanksthe structure being provided by the terms of the surrounding textual ma tter. In order to be filled and to complete the text, these blanks necessitate the cre ation of reader expectations, the resolution of these expectations, and the continued creation of new ones. Yet for all the responsibility placed on the reader, the overall di rection and influence of the text however incompleteweighs heavily in the readers f ormulation of the unwritten elements which fill in the gaps: The narrative pro vides the raw materials of [ ] description, while the readers heightened anticipa tion of the event constructs those materials into a representation (Tompkins 7-8). Th e tenor of the text, which in the case of Briar Rose and Deerskin is violence, directly restricts the interpretation s available to the reader: texts depicting violence constrain read ers to violent expectations. The ideal reader, then, for any open-ended text is one who is able to fill in the structured blanks with appropriate expectations. Th e text stacks the deck by actively influencing the readers interpretive process and l imiting it by surrounding the blanks with descriptive yet indeterminate material. By str ucturing indirect descriptors, such as metaphors, around physical assaults, Briar Rose and Deerskin guide the reader to
33 formulate the representations of violence the texts themselves omit: representations of genocide and rape, respectively. In the following s ections, I will explore the action the text takes upon the reader through an examination o f reader response. Most significantly, I will focus on the readers reaction to engagement with these narratives of traumatic experiencesthe Holocaust and sexual violencedurin g which the reader takes on a role that is not only interactive with the text but also that becomes multifarious as the text acts upon the reader, positioning him within the text. Vicarious Trauma: The Role of the Victim The traumatic experience and its representation in literature are thoroughly integrated with the role of the reader. As previous ly described, the open-ended narrative is incomplete until the reader provides the missing elements, and by doing so, the reader is positioned within the text. Iser defines this en trance into the text as a readers acquisition of a new perspective. The fairy tale te xt, now novelized and opened to heightened ambiguity, requires reader construction and yet simultaneously positions the reader on unfamiliar ground: When reading, we [the readers] must enter events, t ake on a perspective, and live a life that is alien to us. O ur thoughts while reading must, to a greater or lesser degree, repres ent an unfamiliar experience. [W]e actually participate in the text, and this means that we are caught up in the very thing we are prod ucing. (Iser 126127)
34 As readers consummate the pattern initiated by the text, they become active in events and experiences that are alien to their personal experience. For readers of trauma narratives, then, their active position is caught up in the violence the text requires them to produce. This participation in the completion of an alien trauma narrative is mirrored in the psychoanalytic theory of the talking cure. C oined by Josef Breuers patient Anna O. as a way to describe the therapy that relieved h er of her somatoform symptoms, the term talking cure was adopted by Breuers colleague Sigmund Freud. Freud applied the term to the practice of psychoanalysis as a whole a nd as an exercise in patient-analyst communication. Specifically, Freud used talking cur e to define a trauma narratives completion by both patient and analyst. The fundame ntals of psychoanalytic theory have undergone many revisions since, but the essence of Freuds connection remains pertinent with regard to the link between narrative and the t raumatic experience. Isers statement about an open-ended text, through reader interactio n, positioning a reader in a life that is alien to [him], coincides with Freuds assertion t hat a therapist or listener must also work to complete a trauma victims broken narrative (Iser 127). The talking cure is described as a therapy that of fers patients a release from both the causal and symptomatic problems of the loss of narrative, specifically the narrative of a traumatic event (Berman 12). Causal problems, suc h as repression or amnesia, are the conscious minds direct attempt to block out that w hich it cannot handle. The omitted events, however, soon plague the victim through sym ptoms, such as insomnia or nightmares, as the mind seeks expression of the uns poken trauma. According to Freud,
35 the task of the therapist or of anyone bearing wit ness to the expression of the broken narrative is to fill in the gapsto help complete the narrative by taking up the role of the victim and synthesizing the missing parts (Berman 2 5). As a patient articulates their trauma narrative, the therapist not only listens to the events as the patient presents them but also maintains a secondary track of thought, wh ich notes discrepancies and gaps in the narrative: readers develop a similar ancillary track when they encounter structured blanks in a text. In this way the (readerly) role o f identifying with the victim is tightly interwoven with the role of listener or witness: fi rst by the necessity of the victims perspective in order for the witness/reader to note the narrative discrepancies; second, and more significantly, by the witness/reader playi ng out the traumatic experience alongside the victim. As described by the talking cure processes, the (r eaderly) role of witness carries with it several implications, primarily the problem atic result that, having taken part in the trauma narrative, the witness or reader has also en tered into the traumatic experience. In helping to create or complete the narrative, the re ader takes on a position within, or as Iser would say, lives the narrative: in the cases of Briar Rose and Deerskin it is a trauma narrative. Having been positioned in the rol e of the trauma victim, readers must now experience the traumatic process throughout the text as they continue to follow the victimized character. Caruth comments on this devel opment as a duality between the character who must play out a process of repetition in the narrative and the reader who follows the same process within the text: The same repetitive phenomena [nightmares,
36 flashbacks, etc.] that plague the victim are also e mbedded in the text as figures and images that appear and reappear ( Unclaimed 92). For example, while Lissar or Deerskin is plagued by up-croppings of broken memories and m oments of dissociation as her mind attempts to reconfigure her repressed history, the reader encounters repeated images of death, rebirth, and blood (McKinley 182-5). In Briar Rose this interactive reader role is clear as Gemma re peats her tale throughout the novel. Chapter by chapter, readers p ut together the full Briar Rose tale as well as discover its function as a Holocaust sur vival story. Gemmas version of the tale is incorporated into nearly every memory that Becca has of her grandmother: a lifetime of repetition as Beccas flashbacks, in which Gemma re lates the tale, begins with Becca as an infant and ends with her as an adult. In taking apart Gemmas tale to reveal the unspoken event and complete the traumatic narrative readers take a part in the narrative they have constructed. Beccas focalization and the development of Gemmas tale connect the reader to the role of victim. The duali ty of the readers interaction as described by Caruth sets in. As Gemma continually r ecites her survival story, readers see repeated figures of reluctance or hesitation, image s of destruction and desolation as Becca searches for her grandmothers past, and even the succession and recitation of Gemmas tale to the youngest generation. Similar in teractions occur in Deerskin while Lissar is living in another kingdom under the new i dentity of Deerskin. The princess is haunted by dreams and brief flashbacks of her previ ous life that she tries desperately to ignore. As readers make the connections between her visions and her assault, which she
37 refuses to make, the repetitive phenomena [ ] embe dded in the text surface as recurring images of bile and blood and as reappeari ng figures of indiscriminate benevolence (Caruth 92). The role of the reader connected to the victim of the trauma narrative is a process within a process. As reader formulations of expecta tions fill the blanks of the narrative, the reader is suddenly in the middle of a trauma pr ocess of repetition and coping mechanisms. Where the victimized protagonists, whos e narratives must be completed by the reader, are experiencing the symptomatic issues of their trauma and loss of narrativenightmares, flashbacks, and other repetit ive mechanismsthe reader follows the same process within the text with recurring ima ges, figures, or characters. The communication between the text and the reader allow s the text to act as much on the reader as the reader acts on it. By witnessing and completing the trauma narrative, the reader is positioned within the text alongside the traumatized and victimized character. Violent Readers: The Role of the Violator While readers are able to interact with a violent text from the position of the victim with a number of interesting results, the en gagement certainly does not stop there. The structured blank, though related to the loss of narrative after a traumatic event, can engage the reader in a completely different directi on. The structured blank is not open to any and all interpretations. The terms of the text restrict a readers constructed representations that fill in the blank. In traumati c narrativesones depicting the physical
38 and psychic trauma of genocide and rapethe terms o f the text are quite simply violent. Readers are necessarily creating violent interpreta tions, but rather than the reaction to the narrative, the emphasis is placed on the creation i tself. Using the structured blank to maintain Bakhtins o pen-endedness and ambiguity, the text refuses to represent the violent act: gas poisoning in Briar Rose and Lissars rape in Deerskin Rather, the responsibility of interpretation and creation is placed on the reader. Laura Tanner comments on reader response to representations of violence particularly rape and torturein twentiethand twe nty-first-century novels: With each [ ] inadequate representation of the violence [ ] t he [event] itself becomes more visibly absent; [it] becomes a gaping hole in the t ext that the reader must fill (18). Yet the filling in of the blanks is not merely the comp letion of a lost part of the narrative, but rather the creation of the original and hitherto un narrated crime: [T]he narratives withholding of the representati on of [the] crime shifts the burden of creation away from [the text] and toward the reader (18). This new reader-text interaction, of course, constitutes a new role for the reader. The reader is not, as before, linked to the position of victim as she watches and anticipates the imminent violent event. Through her expectations, she inserts the act which the text refused to write. In Deerskin Lissars rape and resulting miscarriage are not pre sented explicitly in the text. Similarly in Briar Rose the young Gemmas gas-poisoning and fateful aband onment in a mass grave are markedly absent from the text surrounding her rescue. Instead, metaphors and descriptive cues guide the expectant reader to an a ppropriate interpretation as she reads and watches the scenes.
39 The readers observance, however, does not constitu te the burden of creation the reader must shoulder to interact with the text. In her book on the implications of representations of rape in twentieth-century litera ture, Sharon Stockton states, [T]he process through which violence is translated into l iterature [ ] encourages the reader to reenact that process in reverse. The reader partici pates in the scene by moving through the layers of aesthetic mediation to [create] the o riginal crime (Stockton 34-5). The weave of metaphor and indirect description that thi nly veil the gaping absences of Lissars and Gemmas various instances of physical trauma leaves the reader responsible for deducing and inserting the acts of violation. T he role assigned to the reader, then, cannot be as detached as the position of an observe r. The role is active, and the activity is the creation of the violent event, the unnarrated original crime under which the entire text operates as a trauma narrative. The compulsion to fill in the gaps of the text pushes the reader away from being an observer or witness i nto being the perpetrator: The novels refusal to write the [violence] jolts the r eader into becoming the author of the crime (Tanner 19). In this textual interaction, th e reader assumes the role of the violator. When Lissar is attacked by her father in Deerskin the reader is positioned outside of the assault with a third-person narrator. Yet as the narrative progresses through the trauma and its immediate after-effects, readers are aware of that Lissar has been raped when Lissar herself is still not aware. Her assault both the cause of her physical agony and her need for departureis represented with elli pses as Lissars mind blocks her trauma; every decision she makes is small and restr icted to the purpose of survival. Through the entirety of her ordeal, Lissar refuses to acknowledge what happens to her,
40 yet the reader is fully informed. Up until the mome nt of her rape, the reader is conditioned for violent expectations by the text. L ong before the night of her assault, Lissar is unnerved by her fathers inappropriate at tention towards herShe did not know what she saw [in her fathers eyes], but it ma de her cold all overand her disconcertion culminates in his nearly beating her unconscious when she refuses to marry him (McKinley 27). At the moment she is raped, the text elegantly steers around the event: He did what he came to do (86). The reader stares straight through those words and knows that the king came to rape his daughter; more than this, the readers expectation of her rape creates the event. There is a similar effect in Briar Rose when Gemma is rescued from the mass grave. The text is e xplicit with regard to Josefs observations of the Nazis cruelties and specifical ly of the vans going to and from the mass grave to dump bodies. His resuscitation of Gem ma after she is found in the grave and the after-effects of her ordeal in the camp are all directly related in the narrative: It was into Josefs mouth she, at last sputtered and c oughed [ ]. In the morning she was still alive, [ ] her body was stained with feces an d vomit (Yolen 162-4). However, the gas-poisoning itself relies on the readers authors hip. The reader interprets from the text that the young Gemma was poisoned by exhaust fumes in the van that drove her and many others to the mass grave, thereby creating the deadly event that plagues Gemmas history. Just as the role of the victim gives way to the co ping process of repetition within the text, the role of the violator carries a textua l effect as well. An act of violation and
41 therefore the role of violator are strongly linked to, even dependent upon, the objectification of the victim. When the king choose s to assault her, Lissar is less her fathers daughter than she is an object, a body tha t the king is able to physically subdue and from which he can take whatever he wants. Gemma and her fellow prisoners at Chelmno are given no consideration by their captors beyond their physicality and how much exhaust is required to make their bodies succu mb. As the violator, the reader is presented with the objectified bodies of the victim s by the text, that is the focus of the narrative shifts to the physicality of the protagon ists. Lissars broken and bruised body in Deerskin hampers every move she makes, and yet its survival is her call to move at all. As she makes her way up the mountain, surviving her wounds and her miscarriage is all she has the energy to focus on. In Briar Rose Gemma survives the gassing, but for a number of days directly after she is pulled from th e grave, the men of the group watch her, noting every physical sign of gas poisoning, p utting unmitigated emphasis on her damaged body. This textual objectification of the v ictims coupled with the voluntary creation of the missing violent events position the reader completely opposite her earlier role of witness/victim. The reader becomes the viol ator, committing the crimes the text refuses to write. Conclusion The techniques employed in the writing and telling processes are primarily focused on the reader and garnering her response. T he ambiguity and open-endedness of
42 the texts work to engage the reader, to draw her in to the narrative as an active player rather than as a bystander. The text invites reader interpretation and demands communication by providing blanks for the reader to fill. The roles of the reader of a trauma narrative funct ion differently with one working from the position of victim and the other f rom that of violator. Yet both roles develop from the open-ended text: the novelized fai ry tale, expanded and restructured to engage and influence the reader. The structured bla nks necessitate active interplay and communication between the text and the reader. The roles assumed are influenced by the text; therefore, as the reader acts on the text by filling in the structured blanks, the text acts on the reader, creating the ideal reader to co mplete the narrative. In these two novels, the line between reading as victim and reading as v iolator is disconcertingly fine. They are not the same role, but both depend on the reade r formulating expectations to bridge the glaring omissions in the text. The implications of both roles will be discussed in the next chapter, but the mere opposition between the r ole of victim and that of violator speaks to the complex, embedded interactions betwee n the texts and the reader.
43 Chapter Three: Traumatized Tales and Disenchanted R eaders Elements of well-known stories weave their way int o real life. Disenchantment is an everyday practice that becomes evident in even t he most common metaphors and analogies: My aunt is like my fairy godmother or He was like Jack against the corporate giants for example. This daily dissoluti on of magical elements from fairy tales and other genres into reality naturally leads to th e same trend of disenchantment in the reading experience. In Postmodern Fairy Tales Cristina Bacchilega writes that the fairy tales magic depends on our suspension of disbelief as readers in reference of a quote by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Bacchilega 28). This suspe nsion is a readers acceptance of a tales supernatural rulestalking animals offering guidance, magic spells that must be broken, the presence of ghosts and other spirits, e tc.in order simply to read the tale. As the fairy tale genre has moved into the twentieth a nd twenty-first centuries, readers and critics alike seem less able or less willing to acc ept a fairy tales rules and suspend their disbelief (Joosen 236). Both recreational and criti cal readings of fairy tales have come to include the process of disenchantment of the tales magical or supernatural elements. The magic mirror in Snow White for instance, has been disenchanted into multiple representations from the voice of the king or patri arch to the expression of Snow Whites own superego. This practice of inserting and diluting magic with features of the real is also a trend in fairy tale retellings/re-visionings. As di scussed in the previous chapters of this thesis, authors often use novelization and narrativ e strategies to create what Bakhtin calls openendedness. Likewise within re-visioned tales including Deerskin and Briar Rose
44 a decline in magical features becomes apparent [ ] in favor of greater ambiguity: that is increased ambiguity which can systematically dra w readers into active roles within the fairy tale narrative (Joosen 236). In these two fai ry-tale novels, explicit exchanges or integrations of magical elements with realityspeci fically with dark and unspeakable traumas of realitysucceed in both disenchanting th e tales and deliberately setting up the narratives with a clear message about the issues th at have been included. Re-vision and Re-placement Magic and the supernatural are both common, indeed integral, in the fairy tale genre. Readers encounter these forces of benevolenc e, malevolence, or both depending on the character that invokes them, often garnering some lesson or higher truth: good characters are aided and protected, while bad chara cters are punished or killed. In both Briar Rose and Deerskin readers find the magic in the classic tales repla ced with elements of or associated with trauma. The disenchantment of Briar Rose or Sleeping Be auty in the Wood into Jane Yolens novel clearly centers on the replacement of magical elements in the narrative with those of stark, deadly reality. In Perraults and the Grimms classic tales, the most notable magicks are of course the evil spell that c ondemns the princess to death and/or sleep and the kiss that awakens her after a century Yolen chooses to ground these enchantments and the novel as a whole by linking th em to the Holocaust, specifically a story of a womans survival of an extermination cam p in Poland. The spell conjured by the thirteenth fairy or wise woman is cast out of j ealousy and resentment:
45 [The thirteenth] had not been invited, and now she wanted her revenge. [S]he cried out in a loud voice: When the daughter of the king turns fifteen, she will prick her finger on a spindle and fall down dead. (Grimm 235) The twelfth wise woman steps in to temper the evil spell with sleep instead of death, although this does little to lessen the horrific ef fect of the thirteenths words. Despite preventative actions from the king, the princess su ccumbs to her fate and lies asleep for a hundred years. This highly recognizable moment in t he narrative and very damning proclamation are both re-visioned and replaced in Y olens Briar Rose As readers follow Gemmas version of Briar Rose through Beccas fla shbacks, the differences between Gemmas story and the familiar classic tale are cle ar and clearly significant. Gemmas bad fairy is not only spiteful but outfitted with m enacing attire: the bad fairy is dressed all in black with big black boots and silver eagles on her hat (Yolen 27). Black boots and an eagle-adorned hat are explicit references to the Nazi uniform, and the curse the bad fairy lays is death to not only the princess but to everyone. Readers find also that the mist which covers the kingdom becomes the exhaust which suffocated Gemma and her fellows at the extermination camp. Afterward, they were dumped into a mass gravea grim replacement for Sleeping Beautys bedchamber. Following the curse and its coming to fruition, th e princess and her kingdom fall into a hundred-year sleep, which is lifted only by the kiss of a worthy suitor (defined by his ability to get past the daunting briar hedge ar ound the castle). The classic tale boasts the arrival of said suitor, a kiss, and a happy end ing, but Yolens retake on the story reads with less simplicity. With Gemma as the princess, s he does experience a death-sleep and a kiss of revival, but her awakening is hardly joyo us. An insurgent group of men pulls her
46 from the grave, and two members, Josef Potocki and Aron Mandlestein, take turns giving her CPR. Gemmas literal awakening from death is no t to happiness but rather to the grim reality of her frailty and the continuing threat fr om the S.S. In a final simultaneous moment of similarity and disenchantment, there is a wedding. Gemma marries Aron Mandlestein just as the princess in the classic tal e and Gemmas own version marries her prince. During the wedding, however, the group come s under attack of Nazi gunfire, and the bridegroom is shot and killed. Through disencha ntment, Yolen effectively re-visions the kiss of life for readers so that it awakens alm ost solely to death. In Deerskin the supernatural and enchanted elements are incre ased in both power and ambiguity over their classic-tale counterparts. The fairy godmother of Perraults Donkeyskin, who encourages the princess to stall her father by asking for impossible gifts and finally arranges for the girl to run away is transmuted into a powerful moon goddess. Pitying Lissars wretched state after misc arrying her fathers child, the goddess gives Lissar the gifts of healing, a new identity, and forgetfulness. Lissar as Deerskin has no memory prior to the goddesss arrival, and she c onstantly questions whether the encounter was true or merely a vision. It is this q uestioning and the gifts the goddess bestows that allow her magic to be directly allegor ized: her gifts of amnesia and new identity along with Lissars uncertainty of their i nteraction point to the goddess representing the psychological process of repressio n. This grounding of the supernatural with a very real psychological effect of trauma com es full circle at the end of the novel where McKinley replaces the friendly reunion of the king and his daughter in Donkeyskin with a highly charged scene of retribu tion. As Deerskin vehemently lays the burden of her fathers crimes upon him, her app earance changes back to her former
47 selfhair, eyes, and dress. Even as Deerskin regain s her identity as Lissar, her father becomes aged and crippled under the weight of his g uilt. This, again, is a direct metaphor for the liberation of Lissars personal history and past traumas that she had hitherto repressed. McKinley grounds her re-visioned fairy t ale by disenchanting the supernatural with metaphors for psychological coping processes. By disenchanting the supernatural in favor of trau matic violence, these two novels, and the larger corpus to which they belong, integrate a feminist focus on violence against women. Marina Warner, author of From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers considers the issue of sexual violence in terms o f being a catalyst for womens self-empowerment. Whereas in the classic ta les violated female protagonists are shamed and must work to regain their status, retell ings that focus on violation show the characters surviving, coping, and ultimately succee ding, but never apologizing (Propst 130-1). Rather than being penitent after her assaul t, Lissar takes herself away, and with assistance, she finds a new home and occupation. Ge mma, too, survives her ordeal, marries for a brief amount of time, and makes her w ay to America to have her child and continue life. This message of female agency and su rvival of physical and psychic trauma is indicative of the times of revision in which the se works were writtena time in which, across many disciplines, terms like trauma and victim and survival were all being reconsidered and raising new implications. Simply Marvelous, Complexly Real Due to the commonly occurring feats of magic and s upernatural incidents, the fairy tale as a genre is classified as what Tsvetan Todorov terms marvelous: if the
48 reader influenced by the text concludes that new l aws of nature must be entertained to account for the [texts] phenomena, we enter the ge nre of the marvelous ( Fantastic 24). A readers experience of the fantastic, on the othe r hand, occurs during her hesitation between deciding whether the magical phenomena can be logically explained or if she must accept the existence of magical and/or superna tural forces (25). The classic fairy tale, with its simplistic narrative style and unexp lained supernatural elements, compels the reader to suspend her disbelief and accept the rules of the supernatural without trying to rationalize them. Disenchantment as a reading process and narrative strategy has effectively shoved the fairy tale out of the genre of marvelous. Novel ization and greater ambiguity, having opened up the tales and their trauma to reader inte raction, have of course opened them to more interpretations than the simplicity of the mar velous. Out of the many readings that become available, this chapter is interested in jus t twothe allegorical and the uncanny experience. When considered together, these two rea dings carry heavy implications for the reader in a third step of interpretation. First, we have the allegorical reading in which al l the significant narrative elements are meant to represent something elseesse ntially a novel-sized, multifaceted metaphor. This reading would interpret Yolens Briar Rose at least the Home sectionas allegory for a Holocaust survival story. Gemmas warped tale of Briar Rose coupled with Beccas investigation sets up th e story as representing events other than those it describesnamely Gemmas narrow escap e from death at Chelmno. This reading would of course cease when Josef reveals hi s story which relates the true events, and the novel as a whole picks up as an allegory fo r Gemmas survival of trauma.
49 Surviving an extermination camp is incredible in it self, but surviving the trauma of the experience isfor Gemmaa life-long exercise of cop ing mechanisms, such as repeating the story over and over until her death. Deerskin as allegory functions both in part and as a whole. The different parts of the narrative represent various psychological proce sses: the encounter with the moon goddess symbolizes repression; the confrontation wi th her father is the regaining of identity. Again, these readings continue only for the length of the respective parts of the narrative. They give way, however, to a greater all egory for the novel as a whole. In the beginning of Deerskin Lissar is a young girl with a negative identity; that is, she defines herself by what she is not. More specifically, she cannot identify with what she would like to bea herbalists apprentice, a care-free la dys maidand she refuses to identify herself as what she is expected to beher fathers heir to a powerful throne, her mothers successor in beauty and grace. The greater narrativ e, then, including her assault, intermediary period of discovery and rehabilitation and her eventual recovery, becomes an allegory for the survival of trauma and the subs equent discovery of independent identity. The second reading which comes from the disenchante d fairy tale is an interpretation focused on the uncanny experience. T his experience is often jarring, even terrifying, when readers find that elements in a na rrative cannot be easily dismissed as inapplicable to themselves. According to Sigmunds Freud description of the experience, the uncanny derives its terror not from something externally alien or unknown buton the contraryfrom something strangely familiar whic h defeats our efforts to separate ourselves from it (David 92). For example, the ide a presented in a book that dolls can
50 come to life and harm us is likely a notion we woul d prefer to dismiss, but the familiarity of the dolls eyes being described as alive and ine xplicable movements from the toy chest bring the possibility uncomfortably close. Likewise, an uncanny reading of Briar Rose yields a disconcerting proximity of the Holocaust. Although it is part of global histor y, the Holocaust is often easily put aside as a distant event that did not involve nor has any impact on the current generation. Following Becca, however, readers are shown how eas ily their loved ones can have haunting and daunting secrets. Briar Rose speaks specifically to the Holocaust, but the uncanny reading could apply to any family member we have relegated to the simple functions of baking cookies and giving presents bei ng suddenly revealed as having a devastating past. Deerskin functions in much the same way with the discomfort of incestuous desire being likened to the natural feel ings of love and protection from father to daughter. Readers are also brought impossibly cl ose to an assault and its rehabilitation processes. They follow Lissar as she forces her ide ntity and past away in an effort to protect herself and as she slowly regains what she has lost. This brings very close to readers the question of all human capability, inclu ding their own, to cope with personal trauma and disaster. The simple, marvelous tale, having been opened by p urposeful disenchantment, engenders these two particular readingsthe allegor ical and the uncannywhich work together, in turn. Having had these two readings av ailable, the reader is likely to make another step in interpretation, which connects the two. This third reading carries highly provocative implications for the reading experience As a combination, these two disenchanting interpretationsboth interested in gr ounding the magical elements of the
51 fairy tale in real lifefunction as would be expect ed: what is allegorized becomes strangely or terrifyingly familiar. While this coul d be a simple connection of the two readingsthe idea of ones grandmother hiding a hor rible past that puts one very close to a genocide or the realization of taking family rela tionships and the strength of the self for grantedthe authors have been far more effective th an that. By using re-visioned fairy tales, they have brought the implications of physical trauma back onto the classic tales. Having encounte red issues of sexual violence, genocide, and their effect on human survival throug h an intricate and deliberate interweaving with a fairy tale, the classic tales t hat inspired the re-visions cannot now be read the same way again. The notion that Sleeping B eautys spell is the same malevolent force that wiped out millions during the Holocaust or that Donkeyskins degradation to kitchen maid is the common coping mechanism of repr ession that follows an unspeakable experience is inescapable once the reader has been exposed. In something of a poetic circle, the classic fairy tales inform the reading of the re-visioned tales, which, in turn, inform the reading of the classic tales. Disenchant ment, by grounding the magic elements of the tale in reality, closes the gap of existence between the fantastic and the real. The authentic horrors Briar Rose and Deerskin s magic has been grounded in are consequently undeniably real in the readers world. Conclusion The fairy tale is a genre loaded with prolific sim plicity. The abundance of available readings, interpretations, and social les sons is owed to the fairy tales invitation for readers to enter its world, accept its rules, a nd take away what they will.
52 Disenchantment, however, as common reading practice and writing process, breaks open the rules in favor of ambiguity and creates a narra tive more effectively anchored in reality. While certainly a strategic effort, the au thors choice in integration is also very fitting. They transmute the omnipotent force of mag ic into earthly powers of destruction. What transition is more natural than that from the unknowable to the unspeakable? The effect is an education of sorts for the readera re alization that trauma and destruction are not so inapplicable to her own life. Indeed, her ch ildhood fairy tales are ripe with it. In this way, disenchanting the fairy tale text is ulti mately a disenchantment of the reader.
53 Conclusion: Endings The two novels I have looked at in this thesis and the corpus of fairy tale revisions to which they belong have chosen to put tra umatic violence center stage: the texts narrative events hinge on a violent incident and its physical and psychological repercussions. The authors have also conditioned th eir tales to facilitate the readers interaction within the trauma narrative. Yet for al l the character development, expansion of plot, and disenchantmentall employed to bring t he reader face to face with the traumatic experiencethe acts of violence themselve s are markedly absent. The omission of violence is not a new literary str ategy with regard to fairy tales. For the sake of propriety, many classic tales that use trauma as a catalyst to expel the protagonist from his or her home refuse to explicit ly describe any violation that occurs. But the exclusion of violence Jane Yolen and Robin McKinley maintain in their revisonary tales is an attempt to focus the readers attention rather than distract it. The concentration on violence and, paradoxically, on th e lack of violent acts speaks to a way of approaching the issue of defining trauma. Across many disciplines, particularly psychology and psychoanalysis, the 1990s saw concep ts such as trauma reexamined in search of more appropriate definitions. However, th e focus provided in these novelized fairy tales suggests that an attempt to understand trauma through an event-specific definition is ineffective. Deerskin and Briar Rose address a particular issue in the redefinition of trauma: violence against women. Arguments erupted around th e Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders III s overall dismissal of aspects of trauma with rega rd to
54 the female experience. The endurance of familial vi olence, domestic abuse, even injury in the workplace by women was hitherto given little co nsideration and kept well outside the boundaries of the DSM III s accepted definition of trauma: an event or event s that stand outside the range of normal human experience becaus e of their overwhelming violence and rare occurrence in any one individuals life (4 67). With violence towards women, especially in the home, often being systematic and occurring over a long period of time, it is neither an abnormal experience nor rare in the v ictims life. By presenting the traumatic experiences of Lissar and Gemma yet omitt ing the catalytic acts of violence, Deerskin and Briar Rose highlight the ineffectiveness of defining trauma w ith specificity toward the incident instead of the experience. These texts go to great lengths to rework the fair y-tale narratives into trauma narratives that not only draw the reader into parti cipation but also create implications for the readers further interaction with the classic t ales: textual representations of repression, opening the fairy tale to greater ambiguity, and di senchanting the tale. Yet the reader is also called on to fill in the structured blank that is the act of violation, which means drawing on personal life experience. Many readers h ave the contextual knowledge to read both Deerskin and Briar Rose with the understanding that Lissar is raped by her father and Gemma is gassed during the Holocaust, respectiv ely, but the texts do not require this understanding. All the texts ask of the reader is t o fill in what makes sense to herto imagine for herself what horrible occurrences could compel young women to leave behind their identities and repress their personal histories in order to survive. The text guides the reader with implications toward violence but the conclusion and therefore the manifestation of the traumatic event is the reader s choice. Garnering the specific act is
55 unnecessary so long as the reader comprehends that the omitted event is horrific to the point of being life-altering. Going Further The structure and focus of these novelized fairy t ales, then, point to other disciplines unavailing attempts at redefining trau ma by corralling the concept of a traumatic event into the limits of human experience or intensity or rarity. Deerskin and Briar Rose and the corpus of re-visonary tales they follow su ggest along with members of the psychological community that trauma is most eff ectively defined not by describing the event but by describing the experience: psychol ogist Cathy Caruth and other theorists implored their community to consider the experience s the DSM III s definition excluded, particularly the female experience. A traumatic eve nt is perhaps best construed by an individuals limits of tolerance, but the experienc e of trauma in terms of perceptive, ongoing effectsmarked by repressive processes, sympt omatic issues, and often rehabilitationis both more easily generalized and far more useful in terms of definition. Lissar and Gemma suffer very different events of vi olation, but they are linked in their survival of trauma because of the similar psycholog ical experiences they endure afterward. With a new concentration on the traumati c experience, more areas of consideration within this corpus of violent re-visi ons are opened up to research. This thesis examines the methods and effects of tr ansforming the classic fairy tale into a contemporary trauma narrative that interacts with its reader by analyzing two novels: Deerskin by Robin McKinley and Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. Were this research to go further, I would utilize the focus on experie nce to explore the concept supported by
56 Marina Warner in her book From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Th eir Tellers the notion that violation may be used as a catalys t for female self-assertion rather than self-destruction. A readers interactio n with other re-visionary tales such as Juliet Marilliers Daughter of the Forest (a novel that re-imagines the tale The Six Swans in conjunction with Irish history) or Gregor y Maguires Wicked (which flips the villainy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on its head) is a connection to a female character who ultimately chooses to use her misfortunes to ex press and implement her will rather than letting them destroy her. If we consider the dissatisfaction surrounding the conceptualization of trauma as incentive for the creation of their novels, Robin M cKinley and Jane Yolen have been most effective in reconditioning the classic tales Donkeyskin and Sleeping Beauty in the Wood. This efficacy stems first from the provo cative simplicity of the classic fairy tale, which lends itself to being reconstrued in re -visions. The texts also work because in rewriting the fairy tale, the readers response is taken into high consideration during the generative process, so the texts are conditioned to ward reader interaction. By not only compelling the reader to take part in the traumatic process within the text but also affecting the reader outside the text, Deerskin and Briar Rose show the reader the significant qualities of trauma and the traumatic e xperience rather than attempting to qualify the event. Following a long tradition of so cial relevance, these tales provide a different and arguably more effective lens for unde rstanding trauma: an approach that sets event-specific definition aside and focuses in stead on the connection of experiences, including the readers personal experience.
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