Added: August 16, 2014 – Last updated: September 2, 2017


Speaker: Jessica Murray

Title: The Body Remembers and Speaks Rape in the Work of Yvonne Vera

Subtitle: -

Conference: Women Writing Rape: Literary and Theoretical Narratives of Sexual Violence

Place: Warwick, United Kingdom

Date: April 28, 2007

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | African History: Zimbabwean History | Offenders: Fathers; Representations: Literary Texts / Yvonne Vera; Types: Child Sexual Abuse, Incestual Rape; Victims: Daughters


Link: IBrarian (Free Access)


Abstract: »This paper will explore Yvonne Vera’s representation of rape through the rubric of Luce Irigaray’s theories. In particular, the emphasis will be on challenging conventional notions of “breaking silence” as the only way towards healing. Irigaray argues that “the right to virginity should be part of girls’ civil identity as a right to respect for their physical and moral integrity” (206). I am following Irigaray and using the term “virginity” to refer to more than the physical intactness of the hymen and to include the “existence of a spiritual interiority” (152) of the girl. In Under The Tongue, when Zhizha initially stops speaking after the rape she is displaying the silence of the abused child, which constitutes a paralysis of speaking rather than real silence. The paper will show how her silence develops from this passive paralysis to an active returning to her own interiority in order to heal. In a reclamation of herself and her virginity the touching of the two lips that is signified by her silence becomes a healing activity to counter the pain that was caused by the enforced parting of the vaginal lips by the father. It is through this silence that she is able to cultivate the stillness that is necessary to hear the rivers that connect her to the bodies of her mother and grandmother and it is this connection that ultimately enables her to return home.« (Source: Women Writing Rape: The Blog)

Wikipedia: History of Africa: History of Zimbabwe | Literature: African literature | Zimbabwean writers: Yvonne Vera