Slavery and Mental Institution Madness Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1440 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Literature

She writes that this "was as good as comedy to me" which surely must have been a psychological lift for her.

When she truly does become free, she represents "…the composite role of heroic slave, heroic mother and heroic female," according to Janice B. Daniel, writing in the Southern Quarterly (1997). Hence, from Daniel's perspective, Linda's "quest" matches up well with that of a "traditional romance hero" -- albeit Linda is anything but a typical romance hero (quite the contrary in fact). Moreover, by becoming a kind of non-fictional hero, Linda "convincingly crosses gender lines" because heroism is generally aligned with male characters.

Fears in the Devil in Silver Story -- Who Haunts him?

When your brain has been put in a kind of straight jacket (thanks to a daily sedative cocktail of lithium and Haldol), you are powerless to do anything. Desolation and the difficulty involved in simply sitting down become the order of the day. A man who is paralyzed from strong sedatives every day doesn't sit around being afraid -- he is simply numb. In an interview with the Public Broadcast Service, LaValle explains that "Once he's given the medications, he just loses his will, he loses his bearings. He forgets that he wants to leave because he's only supposed to be there for a three-day observation" (Gross, 2012). People who once were "vibrant, powerful, smart and active," once they are given their drugs, they change from a "live wire" into "essentially a dead power cable," LaValle tells the interviewer, Terry Gross (p. 2).

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Of course the fear that enters Pepper's mind is that monster that kills people. The monster's heels sound like "horseshoes on cobblestones" but he has the body of a frail older man and the head of a bison, with "dead white eyes," which would scare anyone, especially a person who is drugged up on lithium. So the fear that Pepper experiences is partly due to the devil who arrives at night to kill people.

How does Pepper overcome the fears?

Term Paper on Slavery and Mental Institution Madness Assignment

For one thing he gets involved in a sexual relationship with a Chinese woman (Sue) who is supposed to be deported soon. He gets help in finding ways to be alone with Sue. He has Loochie and Dorry to cover for him. On page 244, after Pepper finished moving the bed in his room into a good position, and putting the sheets on it the way he wanted them (he didn't want to do this with Sue in the room), "he actually felt reenergized" -- which is certainly a way to overcome the weirdness of this institution.

"Her mouth was full of embers, just like his," LaValle writes. "He then slid her panties down and lifted the sheets so he could really appreciate her posterior" and she tried to pull down his underwear "but…his underwear was already gone." She asked when he had removed them, and he just "jutted out his chin and smirked as if he'd achieved some great scientific breakthrough" (255). He smiled at the ceiling, LaValle continues (255). Does that sound like a man who is not able to deal with the hauntingly oppressive institution? It sounds like he learned to deal with the fear and the repressive drug-smothered life he was leading against his own will.

He also overcame his situation by plotting to help Loochie attempt to escape, and by obsessing on Van Gough.

In conclusion, it does seem that because this book is a satire, and because it becomes outrageous through its characters and the monster, there isn't really a need to overcome fears in the same way as Linda in Jacob's book. In fact, the LaValle book, though it is unsettling, is more of a parody - ridiculing the poor mental health institutions in the U.S. -- than it is a story in which people are truly haunted and repressed. Fears for Linda were very real but for Pepper they were nothing more than a hazy drug-induced serious of outlandish situations.

Works Cited

Daniel, Janice B. "A New Kind of Hero: Harriet Jacobs's Incidents." Southern Quarterly, 35.3

(Spring, 1997): 7-12.

Gross, Terry. "Victor LaValle On Mental Illness, Monsters, Survival." Fresh Air. Literature

Resource Center. (Aug. 29, 2012).

Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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