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Affect Of An Abusive Childhood In "River Of Names"

623 words - 3 pages

Childhood is the most important chapter in one’s life. Each person has different childhood experiences, some good and some bad. Many times a person’s childhood determines who they are, how they relate to others and how they live their life. One’s morals and virtues begin developing throughout their childhood, which is why it is important to have a proper childhood experience. Abuse, humiliation or insult throughout one’s childhood can scar an individual for life. Dorothy Allison’s “River of Names” is a short fictional story about a girl who tells her dreadful childhood stories as humor in an attempt to forget about her past. In Allison’s “River of Names,” Allison shows us how the narrator is defeated by her childhood and therefore cannot have a normal lifestyle.
Allison’s narrator suffered greatly throughout her childhood. Seeing her cousin commit ...view middle of the document...

The narrator envies and hates Jesse for having a happy childhood. The narrator choice of not having children is the result of seeing all those awful things when she was young.
Traumatic childhood experiences can have a tremendous affect in one’s life. Allison’s unnamed narrator lived many horrifying experiences during her childhood such as
That one went insane-got her little brother with a tire; the three of them slit their arms…that one drank lye and died laughing soundlessly…four disappeared and were never found. One fell in the river and was drowned. One was run down hitchhiking north. One was shot running through the wood. (15)
These are a few of the things the narrator witnessed during her childhood. “Almost always we were raped my cousins and I” (15) the narrator tells us. This makes the audience see the horrible image the narrator had about males and thus leads her to want to be with a woman.
Sometimes, abuse can block what is normal and what is not. Sometimes a person who is abused as a child doesn’t know how to be normal. For example, when Jesse is telling her about her childhood, she doesn’t believe her. “I listened with my mouth open, not believing but wanting, aching for this ‘fairy-tale’ life she thinks is everyone’s life” (13).

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The narrator doesn’t know what normal is due to her childhood. Her childhood abuses also lead the narrator to being a homosexual.
Dorothy Allison’s “River of Names”, tells a fictional story about a woman who was abused as a child and what she has grown up to be because of that. The passages reveal how the narrator’s traumatic past has defeated her in the way that she has become something that she didn’t want. Childhood experiences such as these may haunt a person endlessly. Allison’s unnamed narrator will never be normal due to her traumatic past. The passages of this story prove this.

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