Laura Tanner, in her Intimate Violence, points out that, while reading, one becomes detached from victims of violence in particular texts such that the reader is able to observe the act of violence without suffering its consequences (Tanner, 9). While Tanner is correct in her assertion that representations of violence give the reader a look at violence without consequence, it is not necessarily the case that the violence done unto Temple Drake in William Faulkner's Sanctuary keeps the reader so detached from her plight that the reader cannot sympathize with her through others' eyes.Tanner does not take time to discuss the nature of representation in more general terms, and without looking at representation in more general terms it is hard to interpret the effects of other types of representation of which there are plenty in Sanctuary. Representation from Tanner's perspective consist of two main points, and those are the detachment the reader goes through when reading the representation, and, secondly, the idea that this detachment invites the reader to empathize with the "doer" of the represented act.
[...] This is a valid point, and when one considers the reader's evaluation—the second point of Tanner's argument—one should keep this in mind to remember that the reader will not always blindly become brainwashed by the text. Common sense and common logic will dictate that everyone has experienced in one sense or another a sort of pain in their lives. So long as this has occurred, the reader is equipped with a degree of preparedness of how to relate to violence done unto another. [...]
[...] In the form of representation for this scenario what is not seen because of the fact that this is not a real-world occurrence is the car itself. This accounts for the first point of Tanner's argument about represented violence. The second part—how the reader reacts to the absence of tangible event—is evaluated as how the reader reacts to the perspectives of the subjects. The reader can see through Temple's eyes a feeling of relief that there is some sort of salvation coming to her, and the reader can see through the eyes of Ruby a unique kind of caring. [...]
[...] Using Tanner's outline of representation the reader must remove the physical real life effects of the event and engage in an examination of how the event then affects the reader's mind. This scenario of course will be different because Ruby does not engage in any physical act. Thus there is nothing that the reader doesn't experience that should be there in the first place. What's more, however, is that the reader does experience Temple's fear. Tanner points out that Temple's lack of explanations make the reader fill in gaps with his or her own explanations. [...]
[...] Tanner might argue that the violence committed upon Tommy by Popeye who kills him puts the reader in a position where Popeye, again, is given the weight of perspective. Temple, however, is given a chance at having a voice here because it can be said that she had a hand in his death. This is not to say that his death is her fault, but it is to say that in evaluating the representation of Tommy's death, Temple comes out to have a voice or an eye. [...]
[...] Thus in this example it has been determined that the first point of Tanner's outline of representation is somewhat void—there is no real event in which the reader is forced to ignore. Still, however, Tanner's outline requires an examination of how the reader responds. The even here, again, is Ruby warning Temple in what essentially falls into an act of kindness even though Ruby isn't necessarily cordial in her act. Though the reader is given the opportunity to see the fear Temple encounters, the reader also sees Ruby's involvement. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee