Lucky by Alice Seabold Essay

Pages: 10 (3376 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality

Lucky by Alice Sebold

Analysis of Rape Trauma Syndrome

Rape is daunting, scary and has a tendency to change you as a person and take away your identity and self-esteem from the victim. Where the victims try to overcome the trauma that they had experienced in the past, objects and events related to that encounter along with the behavioral change in society's behavior make that moment live again and again. Where many college students undergo this traumatic event which nearly demolishes their self-esteem and social independence, a limited number of victims actually report this event to local authorities and pursue for seeking justice. Apparently, Alice Sebold is one of those limited girls who have faced this brutality and violence and yet managed to not only stay afloat but let the world become aware of the agony that they went through.

Lucky by Alice Sebold is a narrative of Alice's personal experience about the first sexual encounter that she had with an unknown man who forced his will onto her and took away not only her virginity but also ability to trust others and live in a world full of hope. Careful chapter by chapter analysis reveals how Alice lives through the moment of humiliation time and again but managed to overcome this feeling with the help of individuals from her social circle despite rejection expressed from her father; and how she managed to strike back and sought justice for the crime that changed her life.

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Sebold's work sheds a great deal of light on how the trauma is aggravated by the non-supportive nature of legal system and also lack of support from social units. In Alice's case, she was interrogated by the Police rather skeptically. Where skepticism is a must attribute expected to be part of investigative behavior, victims need sympathy and time to catch up their breath and relax. Although the book is not a critique of legal system but it does elaborates the needs of rape victims with reference to sympathy and respect (Raitt & Zeedyk, 1997)

TOPIC: Essay on Lucky by Alice Seabold Assignment

Apparently for Alice, the trauma begins from the moment when she encountered the rapist. Despite her utmost struggle, she could not force the African-American man to let go of her feeble body. The physical resistance ended up in failure and then was followed by verbal negotiation. During this incident, Alice was not fearful about the loss of her virginity nor about her self-esteem; all she could think of the ways to survive and live through this moment. The reason that she gave in her physical resistance was the threat of getting slaughtered by the knife that the rapist possessed. She was awestruck by the horror of death itself, that the phase of penetration was not felt by her despite being a virgin. All she could feel and think was the strategy to stay alive and get along with her life.

Alice underwent the acute phase of trauma right after she encountered this man. Her fear of death made her comply with the demands of the rapist and even help him force himself onto her. She later on recalls that the only reason of her still being alive was smart thinking at the spur of moment. She did consider herself smart enough for not being dead since she played strategically as she writes "I became one with this man. He held my life in his hand. Those who say they would rather fight to the death than be raped are fools. I would rather be raped a thousand times. You do what you have to do (2009, p.9)."But the pleasure of having chance to live doesn't reduce the fear of death in her life after this incident.

The acute phase of rape trauma begins right after event itself and may last for few days. During this phase, the survivor experiences a complete disruption of their life, responding to the fear of death they experienced. Survivors may display any of a number of contrasting emotional responses (Burgess & Holmstrom, 1974, p.982-3). A survivor may cry, shout, swear, laugh nervously, be silent, discuss the weather, or sit calmly. Alice showed a rather controlled behavior when she met her friend and was being physically examined. Although some of the victims tend to be expressive in their display of emotions which may include crying out loud, shouting etc. In her pursuit of revival of being normal, she managed to crack and old joke which made her friend cry. Even after meeting a trustable person, she managed not to show by crying out loud or extreme. Furthermore, she fully cooperated with the medical examiners as well. Even in the extreme moments, she was thinking not about her but how her mother would feel if she knew about it (2009, p. 33).

After the event, she didn't felt like eating or sleeping which is a common reaction in rape victims however she passed through that stage rather quickly (2009, p.53). Although the acute phase did not have severe physical outcomes, it did change the way she perceived the world. After the incident, she viewed that tabooed violence everywhere. Instead of feeling part of her family and the people she has spent years with, she felt more connected to the victims of the rape. She expressed her feeling by saying, "not with the girls and boys I grew up with, or the students I went to Syracuse with, or even the friends and people I've known since. I share my life with my rapist. He is the husband to my fate (2009, p. 103)."

During her medical examination, even the pain killer couldn't reduce the impact of pain and humiliation that she was feeling. As Sebold writes, "Every inch of my skin prickled and burned. I wanted him off of me. I wanted to shower and rub my skin raw (2009, p.37)." The acute phase is full of confusion for the sufferer. The reactions are mixed and uncertain; also, they vary from victim to victim. In her writing, Alice has portrayed herself to be somebody in full control of herself. Her idea of not taking sympathy from anyone and not letting anyone view as a rape victim but only as 'Alice' was portrayed by her gesture of throwing away the prescription. Alice was controlled. Nothing but controlled.

The motivation of not being a weakling like other rape victims was drawn from her obsession of not letting her mother aware of this incident. This controlled response was obviously accompanied by physical issues as well. She viewed herself as a child mummy when she saw her reflection before her first bath (2009, p. 40). She felt so feeble that she requested her friend to help her get cleaned. The bruises around her neck made her feel the grip of rapist's hands around her neck. It is important to note that Alice's experience of acute phase was rather limited. She apparently seemed to be problem solver; someone who tries to do things in a conclusive way which would save her fro maximum physical harm. Due to this attitude, she willingly got along with the rapist. and, after the event, she refrained from crying.

However, her pursuit of not making her mother feel miserable about her was followed by contacting Police. She had to convince them that she was a virgin which was an embarrassing experience itself. Police's skepticism reminded her of the rapist who also found it hard to believe that she was a virgin (2009, p.60). All of a sudden, she relived that awful moment. But after that brief acute phase, she moved onto reorganization phase in which she tried to collect herself and be part of mainstream college student. Of course, the attitude of those around her changed a great deal. Her friends were concerned and tried to take care of her. Even her friend's boyfriend who was Black tried to undo the harm by hugging her (2009, p.48).

All this extra care made Alice goes into a state of denial which is a common psychological reaction from a rape victim suffering from rape trauma syndrome. Where some of the victims grow phobia of factors related to the event; others tend to convince themselves that the event never happened or it has no impact on themselves which is was what precisely happened to Alice She wanted to believe and prove that she was still 'Alice'. She denied having rape a significant event in her life but seeing black men made her insecure and she had flashbacks whenever she saw one (2009, p.203). Despite the fact that she herself segregated the world into 'safe and unsafe zone', she wanted others to view her as the same old person. She expressed her feeling by saying, "My life was over; my life had just begun (2009, p.64).

Alice did mock about the word 'Lucky' by naming this book Lucky. Although Police considered as lucky because she managed to live however, careful analysis would lead to a conclusion that Alice was lucky because she… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Lucky by Alice Seabold" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Lucky by Alice Seabold.  (2012, October 31).  Retrieved August 4, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Lucky by Alice Seabold."  31 October 2012.  Web.  4 August 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Lucky by Alice Seabold."  October 31, 2012.  Accessed August 4, 2021.