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Eying Down Sanctuary: A Study of the Effects of Representation upon Readers

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  1. Introduction
  2. The representations of violence
  3. The first point of Tanner's outline of representation
  4. Opportunities for the reader to empathize with Temple through sympathetic eyes
  5. The absence of the actual rape scene
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works cited

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. [...]

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