Autobiography post 1

September 22nd, 2010

Lucky response

Posted by Tricia Zephyr in Uncategorized

” “Alice,” he said, ” a lot of things are going to happen and this may not make much sense to you right now, but listen. Try, if you can, to remember everything”…  So it was a shout across a great distance. he knew, as I was later to discover when I walked into Doubleday on Fifth Avenue in New York and bought This Boys’s Life, Wolff’s own story, that memory could save, that it had power, that it was often the only recourse of the powerless, the oppressed, or the brutalized.”

This quote speaks to what an autobiography, in any capacity of the word and sub-categories that it includes, is. It is the recounting of events that happened, the remembering of what happened in the past; that memory that allows what is past to become more real and ever so present. The quote featured above speaks to Alice’s remembering, revisiting, and possibly reliving the events, not only of her rape alone, but every event after.

Alice wrote “… memory could save”, and her ability to use rely on her memory, (which was not only a  memory, factual- I feel the need to point that out) saved her in certain ways. She was able to recapture and give an extremely detailed account, however unsettling and disturbing it was, which gave the prosecution enough evidence to sentence her attacker. Her memory was the reason she was able to identify her attacker almost six months after the event after she saw him once  more, in all his smugness, arrogance, and disgust.

Alice’s remembered how the attack happened, and how it felt. She has this incredible ability to be able to disassociate the feeling of what rape and ” making love”  was as she put it. She was able to emotionally separate the two which is simultaneously unfathomable and admirable.

That scene is significant to understanding the text because it illustrates that she was not okay. Through out the text, Alice was constantly convincing people to believe that she was okay, that her emotional status was constant- just okay.  Whenever she asked how she was doing, she always responded with, “ I’m fine.”  Fine.  What does that mean?  Although fine could mean a good thing such as “ You are doing a fine job,” I highly doubt that’s what she meant by it. To respond as curtly as she did shows distance, an unattatchment of some sort, because every time that question was asked it was in reference to the rape. She was forced to remember.

Alice’s memory is powerful. She remembered what she felt like and how she was victimized, so she too realized the victimization of others when she lived in New York City teaching at Hunter College which is why they confided in her without any restraint or reservations. Like she said, “ She was like a bartender” just listening, unbiased. 

The last line before The Aftermath reads, “Rape would not follow me.”  That statement speaks to her authority, and strength over her mind. The memory of her rape was continuously taunting her-terrorizing her. She made a conscious decision to not forget what happened since it molded who she was, but to move on and not allow it to stifle her.  The scene of Alice on fifth Avenue where she describes Wolff’s story is not only essential because it draws parallels to her, in that one scene it  also encompasses the events in the book.  She was “powerless, oppressed and brutalized by her rapist,” but by her remembering how it felt and choosing for the memory of rape not to increase effectiveness over her, she has reclaimed power.

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