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Secret trauma in Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Fall on Your Knees: dissociation, art, and healing

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posted on 2021-05-23, 13:13 authored by Rachel Smith

Opening paragraph: "Ann-Marie MacDonald opens her debut historical novel, Fall On Your Knees,with a key moment in the life of her protagonist, James Piper. The opening,“One morning, the day before his fifteenth birthday, James awoke with the realization that he could hit his father back” (MacDonald 7), announces both the fact that James has been subject to abuse by his father and, more generally, the novel’s central thematic preoccupation with repeatingpatterns of familial abuse. Throughout the course of the novel, we bear witness as James perpetuates this cycle of violence against his family:he sexually abuses first his child-bride Materia, and then his daughters Kathleen, Mercedes, and Frances. Each of these Piper women either experience sexual abuse firsthand, or as witnesses totheincest,as McDonald explores and traces the long-lasting impacts of familial trauma over five generations during the first half of the twentieth century."





Master of Arts


Literatures of Modernity

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type