The Woman Who Walked Into Doors

5687 WordsJul 12, 201223 Pages
Paula's voice, in which the entire novel is related, combines convincing staccato storytelling, slangy working-class diction, frank revelations, and agonized reconstruction of the past in sometimes profane and often touching tones. Here Paula remembers her teenaged self, both attracted and repelled by the man she will so disastrously marry: He was a ride. It was the best way to describe him, from the first time I heard of him to the last time I saw him. He wasn't,t gorgeous. There was never anything gorgeous about him. When we made love the first time in the field when we were drunk, especially me, and I didn't really know what was happening, only his weight and wanting to get sick@ I felt terrible after it, scared and soggy, guilty and…show more content…
Paula is “the woman who walked into doors”[1] because she explains her cuts, bruises, and broken bones by her clumsiness—walking into doors, falling down stairs—rather than their real causes, her husband’s violent physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. This euphemism shows the contradiction of subaltern speech: it can suggest and imply but it cannot truly speak in a language that society is willing or able to decode. In fact, the entire novel rests on the inherent contradiction of subaltern speech because Paula, a subaltern figure, narrates the entire book. The book shows Paula as she struggles to “know and speak [herself],” to borrow a phrase from Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?”[2] In Spivak’s problematic, the “there is no unrepresentable subaltern subject that and know and speak itself;” however, this impossibility is a deconstructive (im)possibility,[3] neither final nor absolute. Spivak’s writings on fictional representations of subalterns, such as her preface to Mahasweta Devi’s Imaginary Maps[4] and “A Literary Representation of the Subaltern,” as well as “Can the Subaltern Speak?”, explore the contradictions that this impossible speech produces. Doyle’s novel suggests another way to theorize this contradiction by looking at its
Open Document