Cultural, Linguistic and Literary Approaches to Narratives of Femininity
Edited By Tiina Mäntymäki, Marinella Rodi-Risberg and Anna Foka
Trauma and Contextual Factors in Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Fall on Your Knees: Incest, Race and Gendered Subjectivities
← 112 | 113 → Marinella Rodi-Risberg
Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Fall on Your Knees weaves a tale of incestuous desire with a story of fear of miscegenation and specifically draws attention to the complex processes of reframing traumatic experiences in relation to contextual factors. This chapter explores the process of remembering a trauma within a racialised and gendered context, arguing that this process not only exposes social and cultural norms of gender, sexuality and race, according to which the traumatised protagonists are considered deviant, but also disrupts these conventions.
A growing number of critics read Ann-Marie MacDonald’s 1996 debut novel Fall on Your Knees1 as a gothic text, and carefully examine its gothic elements in relation to the traumas of Canada’s colonial past, emphasising that the book calls into question prevailing literary and sociocultural scripts as well as draws attention to contemporary forces of racial and gendered oppression.2 But whereas MacDonald’s novel is structured around the father’s incestuous transgression and draws on gothic tropes to tell taboo issues – linking familiar abuse to gender, sexuality and race in a context of fear of miscegenation – its depiction of the forgotten violence, suffering and loss of a peripheral people clearly places the critically praised and international bestseller within the genre of trauma narratives. ‘Trauma narratives’, Laurie Vickroy (2002: x) asserts, ‘highlight postcolonial concerns with rearticulating the lives and voices of marginal people, rejecting Western conceptions of the autonomous subject and describing the complex negotiations of multicultural social relations’. MacDonald’s Celtic-Arabic...
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