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The Shadow King


An unforgettable epic shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, and named a best ...
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What do you think these portrayals show about the nature of trauma? What do they say about the effects of sexual assault on victims or of war on those who are involved in it?

Created: 09/16/20

Replies: 3

Posted Sep. 16, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2619

What do you think these portrayals show about the nature of trauma? What do they say about the effects of sexual assault on victims or of war on those who are involved in it?

Multiple characters in The Shadow King are described as experiencing a feeling of separation from their bodies and the physical world when they are assaulted or find themselves in danger. What do you think these portrayals show about the nature of trauma? What do they say about the effects of sexual assault on victims or of war on those who are involved in it?


Posted Sep. 19, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
elisabethc

Join Date: 07/16/19

Posts: 42

RE: What do you think these portrayals show about the nature of trauma? What do they say about the effects of sexual assault on victims or of war on those who are involved in it?

I thought that scenes like this were very well done because they showed not just what you might consider the disconnect from reality that people experience in traumatic moments, like after Hirut is whipped by Aster and imagines herself leaving her body and walking around, but also a kind of disruption of time, or the sense that traumatic experiences are split into chunks so the mind can process them.

These portrayals also show how some types of assault and trauma that might be classified differently may actually be quite similar: Notably, when Aster is forced to have sex with Kidane on their wedding night, her experience doesn't come across as so different from Hirut's experience of being raped by Kidane later on.


Posted Sep. 25, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
roberti

Join Date: 09/19/20

Posts: 5

RE: What do you think these portrayals show about the nature of trauma? What do they say about the effects of sexual assault on victims or of war on those who are involved in it?

The portrayals reveal the severely pathological essence of sexual abuse, from Kidane working so hard to convince Hirut no harm will come to her while she is struggling and terrified almost to insanity. She finds she has no recourse and when indicating to Aster that she wants revenge Aster threatens Hirut she will kill her if she seeks revenge. It’s the annihilation of Hirut’s psychological well-being. There is no recourse for her but to take aggressive action that she can justify on other opponents. And so the trilogy never stops.


Posted Oct. 20, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ireneh

Join Date: 11/22/19

Posts: 29

RE: What do you think these portrayals show about the nature of trauma? What do they say about the effects of sexual assault on victims or of war on those who are involved in it?

I agree with the other respondents that the violent assaults in the book both magnified and diminished the actual acts. The fact that Aster, Hirtu, the cook, and those who were thrown from the cliff abandoned the reality to escape into a private inner place and hide is probably an accurate description of what happens to those who are assaulted sexually or in other physical ways. Remaining in oneself and being fully aware and cognizant of the abuse could be seen as the road to madness. Escape into the mind is the brain's way to protect us from shock in many forms.


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