The Telling of Trauma: Narratives of Rape on Twentieth-Century Hispanic Culture

Libbey, Allison Joyce, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Pellón, Gustavo, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Lagos, Mané, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Anderson, Andrew, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Fraiman, Susan, Department of English, University of Virginia

The following dissertation contains a narratological approach to contemporary rape narratives in Spanish, Latin American, and U.S. Latina literature. By comparing modern stories of rape trauma to traditional myths and literature, it explores the ways in which certain contextual and narratological aspects of these works have evolved. Also discussed is the way in which contemporary rape myths, such as the belief that women desire rape, are portrayed in many of the texts under consideration. By combining a dual emphasis on narrative and story, the end result is an approach based on feminist narratology. The first chapter contains an analysis of the way in which a woman's violated body is traditionally used to represent larger social abuses. Her rape acts as a catalyst that inspires revolution, which ends in positive political change. By analyzing Ramón Pérez de Ayala's Luz de domingo and José María Arguedas's El Sexto, this study examines the manner in which these two twentieth-century novels subvert this traditional ending. The following chapter focuses on a newer literary topic of the rape of children. Ana María Moix's Julia, Silvina Ocampo's "El pecado mortal," and Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street represent child rape from the victim's perspective. This allows for a close examination of psychological and emotional repercussions as well as for analysis of the way in which a child's understanding of rape is conveyed in these works. The rapist's perspective is then discussed in Alfredo Pareja Diez-Canseco's Hombres sin tiempo, Ramón Pérez de Ayala's La caída de los Limones, Carlos Fuentes's La muerte de Artemio Cruz, and Armando Ramírez's Violación en Polanco. The analysis iii of these works focuses on two specific questions: whether the narrator/rapist is reliable or unreliable and whether or not he is portrayed in a manner that elicits readers' sympathy. The last chapter returns to the connection between rape and politics in Ariel Dorfman's La muerte y la doncella and Luz Arce's El infierno, which discuss the rape and torture of female political prisoners in Chile. The critical focus is on how they discuss subject of rape as well as on their historical value.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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