9/22 LUCKY Response

September 22nd, 2010

“I played histrionic games with Ken and Barbie, where Barbie, by sixteen, had married, given birth, and gotten divorced from Ken. At the mock trial, where the courthouse was made out of poster board I’d cut up, Barbie gave her reason for divorce: Ken didn’t touch (43)”.

This passage, though oblivious to the author’s main story, represents what to me is one of the most recurring themes of Lucky, which is that of “touch” as a consequence of human actions and interactions. Alice, the protagonist, describes herself as being “touched” by the black men she sees on the ride to her sister’s dorm, by the old ladies that come to visit her at home, by the frat boys at her sister’s school, etc. Her mother is described as touching her breasts as part of a “dreaded flap”. When describing her mother’s nervous flaps, there was a sense of obscenity, disgust, disapproval, and embarrassment… the author couldn’t accept it as a medical condition.The rapist evidently touched her physically. She described regular couples in her neighborhood as always touching each other while pointing out that her parents barely did so. There is an obvious concern with describing how people touch each other as well as themselves, and I found this concern very unique to this author.

What does it mean to be touched by others? When reading the autobiography of a rape victim, the idea of being “touched” takes the form of a rape scene, where it gets tainted and from which changed perceptions of the same will derive. It seemed to me that from the rape scene forward, how people “touched” became an important descriptive feature to the author for reasons that could range from being a point of comparison to a self-reminder that every touch represents a kind of rape.

I feel that for the purpose of changing the reader’s mindset of what it means to be “touched”, the author intentionally abandons any romantic notion of touch as being a rather emotional manifestation, even when she means she was emotionally “touched” by something or someone she describes it as a very physical, thus uncomfortable process. This was intentional. Most likely to convince us that to be “touched” is something to be watchful of, if not concerned with: it was an intrusion, a crisis, an unforgivable thing. In the presence of this constant concern, I grew more aware as a reader of a trauma that was invisible in the author’s narrative but was vividly sprouting in the language used.

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4 Responses to “9/22 LUCKY Response”

  1. altaeus on September 24, 2010 12:57 am

    Your observation of the thematic attribute the act of touching takes in the novel is well stated. I agree with it, and if I may, I’d like to add how she as a person, touches other people through her experience, by living through it, and by sharing it. The suicidal girl who was raped by her father and brothers for one, was touched by her actions, and the idea of Sebold’s novel revolving around the act of being touched by a tainted force is quite riveting. Your putting it in to words is an interesting take on the story.

    One thing you didn’t comment on, though, is that the passage itself is actually something that occurred before the rape, and therefore is a representation of the thematic scheme, as you’ve mentioned, but not completely related to the act of her being raped. The rationale for her enjoyment of this, would not have coincided, much less even existed as a source of interest after the rape. Still, you drive a very interesting point, and I enjoyed the intellectual progression of your thoughts 🙂

  2. justinesiebuhr on September 29, 2010 1:07 pm

    I enjoyed reading your comments. I think that the passage that you picked is an interesting one, and to tell the truth I didn’t read it as signiifcantly as you have. I am glad that you opened my eyes to this, because I feel that it is important. I got the point of the passage, but the overall message was something i didnt spend too much time with. I agree with you in the way that the act of touching is an important human trait. Touching being physically,emotionally and mentally.

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