chapter  5
16 Pages

Corporeal Fantasies": Trauma and the Body in Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina

Astheshockinglypainfulaccountofachildhoodinvadedandshatteredby violence,incestuoussexualabuse,andshame,BastardOutofCarolina, DorothyAllison's1992novel,posestheproblemofwhatitmeanstorepresenttraumaticeventsthathaveforcefullyintrudeduponthevulnerablepsycheofachild.AnnaRuthBoatwright,knownasBoneinherfamilycircle,is theyoungvictimwhonarratesherownstoryretrospectivelyfromherbirth untiltheclimacticactofviolation,therapebyherstepfatherGlenWaddell, andhermother'sdecisiontoabandonherandfollowherabusivehusband. Thepredominantlymimeticandtestimonialnarrativemodeonwhichthe novelreliesforegroundsacomplex"real"world:thepoor,workingclass, whiteSouthofGreenvilleCounty,SouthCarolina,inthe1950s.Markedby poverty,socialinjustice,andprejudice(butalsolove,courage,andresistance),thissettingprovidesthedarkframefortheviolencethatBone encounters.Atoncetestimonyanddenunciation,thenovelunfoldsagainst thisexternalreality,unmaskingitshorrorstodocumentaryeffect.Atthe sametime,however,inthemasochisticfantasiesanddaydreamsthataccompanyhersurvivaljourney,Boneherselfdevisesasetoftropes,signs,andprivatesymbolsthatarticulateherintra-psychicresponsetosexualabuse. WithinthespaceofBone'sfantasies,sexualpleasureandsexualtraumaare profoundlyintertwined.