chapter
3 Pages

ofpaternity.

ofvirginity other modern

The male role in procreation is, indeed, something that has to be remembered, as opposed to the female role that is visible. Remembering is an urgent business, since paternity is never certain, while maternity is always sure. Expressions for sexuality and for maleness both enhance the importance But, and this is the interesting detail that disturbs, this is a shift, a shift from husband to father. As Freud points out, the purpose ofvirginity is to make a new start, to bring no memory ofany other man, including, we might now suggest, the father. This becomes particularly pointed since the recent discovery ofwidespread father-daughter rape as a modern patriarchal practice. It also helps us understand the reluctance offathers to let their daughters go to another man-to give her away, as the jargon of marriage ceremonies has it. There is a condensation here; not a narrative one, although with narrative consequences, but a linguistic one, a condensation that conflates the position offather and husband, ofpossession in the present and possession in the past or, in yet another tune, of temporary possession and possession forever. Bath's sacrifice is a solution, be it a fatal one, to this dilemma: the father gives her away, but to a higher father, not to a man. And if Bath has been remembered as the virgindaughter, it is because her view ofwhat she is, her subjectivity, has been repressed in the subsequent readings of her story. Of the double view of betulah) the female view of her own life-phase has been repressed and only the negative concern with her possession has been preserved.