French Narratives of War and Occupation
This book is the winner of the Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in French Studies 2011.
Chapter 2 Reflections of Shame: The Broken Mirror
Chapter 2 Ref lections of Shame: The Broken Mirror In his study of the tondues, the women accused of collaboration whose heads were shaved in a public ceremony during the Liberation of France, Alain Brossat notes the comparison of the humiliation of the head shaving ceremony with the gruesome acts of public punishment of the Middle Ages is an observation common to accounts of novelists and social commenta- tors alike. For Brossat, the act of head shaving brings about a present-day confrontation with the barbaric punishments of the past. Brossat argues that head shaving is a more powerful symbol of the clash between oppres- sion and freedom than mass killing.1 Henry Rousso also attests to the tonte having the symbolic power of a lynching.2 Figuratively, tondre (to shave) is tuer (to kill); it expresses society’s desire to punish and expel wartime shame. This analysis of narratives of the tondues examines why it failed. In L’échappée, the head shaving ceremony awakens Madeleine to the realiza- tion that, following the loss of her German lover and her feeling that her life has ended, in the eyes of the local community her shame also confers a social death: ‘J’accepte de traverser la place, c’est ce qu’ils veulent, je suis déjà morte de toute façon, ils peuvent me frapper, me grif fer, m’insulter, je ne sens plus rien, je ne suis plus rien’.3 The tonsure, the shaving of the hair, 1 Alain Brossat, Les tondues: un carnaval moche (Paris: Éditions...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.