"You": A Girl amidst Images and Sounds of Adult Violence in Joyce Carol Oates’s Rape: A Love Story
AbstractTeena Maguire and her child, Bethie, are brutally attacked and beaten by a mob of violent young men in a park at night. While the mother is gang raped and nearly killed, the daughter is both the witness and the victim of physical and psychological violence. Through its innovative second-person narration, Joyce Carol Oates’s novella Rape: A Love Story (2004) contributes to her sustained interest in family relationships, violence, crime and justice. However, rather than focusing on the victim of the rape, Oates writes a coming-of-age story that explores the daughter’s trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder and fight for survival, a struggle that coincides with the girl’s critical passage from childhood to adulthood. During the months after the assault, Bethie’s innocence is also repeatedly violated by the aggressors’ intrusion into her life and the hostility of the community in the town of Niagara Falls and its social institutions, such as police, school, media, healthcare and the judicial system. Unable to cling to girlhood or to find maternal protection, her forced witnessing of her mother’s gang rape compels Bethie to mature too early while experiencing her first love for a man.
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