Summary Of Four Children For Sale By Roland Barthes

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Roland Barthes describes the punctum of a photograph as “that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me)” (Barthes 27). The punctum of a photo is not meant to be the focus of the image. It is the detail that sparks interest. In the photograph 4 Children For Sale, credited to Bettmann Corbis, the punctum for me is the sign or maybe the facial expressions of the children or the mother herself. I say for me because the punctum of a photo is not the same for every person. Every person sees an image differently. Different things will be more prominent to different people because the punctum is unique to the specific spectator.
However, I do not know exactly which detail acts as the punctum. According to Barthes, “What I can name cannot really prick me” (51). The punctum does not necessarily have to be one detail though. If the punctum is what stings at you, what ultimately bothers you, the punctum can be made up of multiple pricks. Multiple subtle details that stop you and make you think of the photo in a new light. Overall, the punctum is what makes you question and what engages you to the photo.
The sign is at least one of the sources of the punctum which can be described as “what I add to the photograph and what is nonetheless already there” (55). The focus of the photograph should be the children considering they are the ones being advertised and yet my attention is constantly drawn to the actual sign and not simply its message. The sign is an anomaly
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