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Cat’s Eye ppt 2. V: WRINGER (continued). The Wringer. A whole person could go through the wringer and come out flat, neat,completed, like a flower pressed in a book. No longer a person, but no longer suffering. EXCUSES. Uses helping mother to avoid play.

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cat s eye ppt 2

Cat’s Eye ppt 2

V: WRINGER (continued)

the wringer
The Wringer
  • A whole person could go through the wringer and come out flat, neat,completed, like a flower pressed in a book.
  • No longer a person, but no longer suffering.
  • Uses helping mother to avoid play.
  • Church with the Smeaths – another place to be judged
    • Is it wrong to be right? How right should I be, to be perfect?
  • Elaine is a failure here as she doesn’t bring other members of her family.
    • My failure to produce these other members of my family tells against me.
mr smeath
Mr Smeath
  • Uses Elaine conspiratorially
    • “Elaine thinks its funny. Don’t you Elaine?”
  • He is a squat, balding, flabby man, but still a man. He does not judge me.
  • Cordelia contemptuous of her ignorance (what a stupe)
  • Mr Smeath and Stephen are the outrageous, the subversive...Of Grace and Mrs Smeath, of tidy paper ladies pasted into scrapbooks. Cordelia ought to be on this side too. Sometimes she is, sometimes she isn’t. It’s hard to tell
wind in the willows
Wind in the Willows
  • Elaine dreading the play – doesn’t know play etiquette.
  • Cordelia is a weasel, can’t tell her from all the other weasels.
    • She could be anywhere.
    • Cunning, duplicitous creatures
  • A Barbara Ann Scott doll – puts it back in tissue; does not want it watching her.
  • Mr Banerji to dinner.
  • Elaine’s father offers refuge in the shared world of biology.
  • Wild things are elusive and wily and look out for themselves. I divide the people I know into tame and wild.
  • Cordelia is wild
  • Brian Feinstein, never cries, but gives mother thinking time.
  • Paid in nickels instead of quarters – counts/sorts money into piles of cut-off heads. Control?
  • Harrassment – Grace – Feinstein is a Jewish name.
  • Kike is not a word we use – Cordelia
  • Elaine does not feel secure in herself, and this uncertainty extends to Brian
    • Brian is not safe with me.
name calling
Name calling
  • What rhymes with Elaine – pain
  • Jew – baby
  • What’s a man who catches bugs?
  • Elaine feels betrayed her Dad.
  • Brian not safe with her.
  • I have only a limited ability to say no.”[159]
buying love
Buying love
  • Spends nickel heads on lollies for friends.
  • In the moment just before giving, I am loved.
  • There will be no end to imperfection
  • Criticised no matter what she does.
  • Starts to throw up
  • I feel safe, small, wrapped in my illness as if in cotton wool.
  • Another physical “side-effect” of the bullying, and a way to escape the torment.
  • The buds turn yellow, the skipping ropes come out.
  • Menace hinted at in the fate of the lady in the skipping rhyme. Twenty-four it the end of her altogether? Why is Elaine not sorry for her?
  • The marbles return.
  • Her own experiences and mindset influences the way she interprets the world. They sound to me like ghosts, or like animals caught in a trap: thin wails of exhausted pain.
her blue cat s eye
Her blue cat’s eye
  • The eye part of it, inside its crystal sphere, is so blue, so pure. It’s like something frozen in the ice.
  • Cordelia notices her playing with it in her pocket.
  • Protects Elaine.
  • Sometimes when I have it with me I can see the way it sees.
  • She can observe the world at a distance, as an artist rather than as a victim
    • I can see people moving like bright animated dolls...I can look at their shapes and sizes, their colours, without feeling anything else about them. I am alive in my eyes only.
leaving toronto for summer
Leaving Toronto for summer
  • Toronto…… a smear of brownish air on the horizon, like smoke from a distant burning.
  • Elaine feels relief – my throat is no longer tight – and her body starts to heal.
  • Whilst the girls condemn her for saying “nothing”, away from Toronto, Elaine can lapse into wordlessness.
    • I can be free of words now
vi cat s eye
  • Her mother cooking – Pressure Cooker series
  • Wanted her timeless. There is no such thing.
  • These pictures of her, like everything else, are drenched in time.
  • Earth Goddess - hilarious in view of her mother’s dislike of housework.
  • Elaine claims it was not a work about feminine oppression – it was only my mother cooking – but the painting does seem very deliberate, with her mother fading out of the home in which she didn’t enjoy cooking, and fading into the camping environment in which she seemed more at home.
  • This is none of my business.
  • “She’s only drunk.” ... What does he mean only?
  • “Don’t leave me.” she says. “Oh God. Don’t leave me all alone.”
  • I’m a sucker, I’m a bleeding heart. There’s a cut in my heart, it bleeds money.
  • I walk away from her, guilt on my hands, absolving myself
  • She sees Cordelia’s eyes. Foreshadows the fact that she did not help Cordelia.
the fall return to city
The Fall – return to city
  • Cordelia – harsher, more relentless.
    • She’s backing me towards an edge
  • Miss Stuart – popular, new teacher.
  • Cat’s eye in pocket, with the help of its power I retreat back into my eyes.
  • Wants to become invisible. Fantasises about death, what Cordelia might make her do.
    • I don’t want to do these things, I’m afraid of them...I hear her kind voice inside my head. Do it. Come on. I would be doing these things to please her.
mother s intuition
Mother’s intuition
  • Muffin making
  • “You don’t have to play with them,” my mother says. “There must be other little girls you can play with instead.”
  • Elaine’s Mum is independent – walks in ravine by herself. She does not inhabit the house, the way other mothers do.
mum s advice
Mum’s advice
  • “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.”
  • “Don’t be spineless.”
  • Sardines – no backbones.
  • “I wish I knew what to do” ...Now I know what I’ve been suspecting: as far as this thing is concerned, she is powerless.
  • Mother seems unsympathetic, but she too is out of her depth
mr banerji
Mr Banerji
  • Cordelia’s pocket mirror – to get Elaine to see her bitten lips.
  • Bridge parties
  • Fellow feeling with another


    • But if he can deal with whatever it is that’s after him, and something is, then so can I.
royal visit
Royal visit
  • Princess Elizabeth – to Toronto to drive past mud- mountains.
  • Elaine hopes that something will happen for me on that day. Something will change.
art at school
Art at School
  • Miss Stuart likes art.
  • Students draw what they do after school.
  • Elaine draws blackness, night. Miss Stuart: so darruk.
  • She doesn’t say I’ve drawn the wrong thing.
  • Miss Stuart’s touch glows briefly, like a blown-out match. Another outsider has offered Elaine understanding/sympathy.
valentine s day
Valentine’s Day
  • Boys are my secret allies.
  • Carol 10 3/4yrs
    • Growing breasts
    • Lipstick
    • Just wait till your father gets home
    • Carol’s father gave it to her good – belt, buckle end, right across the bare bum.
  • Girls can play at being women, but only to a certain degree. (Valentines = yes; make-up = no)
  • Open day at the Zoology Dept.
  • Elaine faints.
  • Fainting is like stepping sideways, out of your own body, out of time or into another time. When you wake up it’s later. Time has gone on without you. It is a way for her to move through life without the pain.
  • Can make herself faint.
  • My eyes are open but I’m not there.
vii our lady of perpetual help
VII: Our Lady of Perpetual Help
  • In Jon’s bed when a woman throws a bag of warm spaghetti, sauce included over them.
  • Elaine admires the courage of her bad manners. Honest, direct. It got things over with.
  • I was a long way, then, from being able to do anything like it myself.
  • Overhears Mrs Smeath talking to Mildred.
  • Mildred: You don’t think they’re being too hard on her?
  • Mrs Smeath: It’s God’s punishment. It serves her right.
  • I hate Mrs Smeath, because what I thought was a secret, something going on among girls, among children, is not one. It has been discussed before, and tolerated. Mrs Smeath has known and approved.
found out
Found out
  • She doesn’t flinch, she isn’t embarrassed or apologetic.
  • Her bad heart floats in her body like an eye, an evil eye, it sees me.
  • Elaine decides to stop praying – God is on Mrs Smeath’s side. God is not Our Father at all.
  • Elaine can’t forgive Mrs Smeath
  • Ostracised by group, finds picture of Virgin Mary. The Seven Sorrows
  • Decides to pray to the Virgin. A kindred spirit, but also subversive; more Catholic that Protestant.
foul play
Foul play
  • Cordelia throws Elaine’s stupid hat in ravine.
  • Ordered to retrieve it: Then you’ll be forgiven.
  • Elaine’s not sure what will happen if she refuses. Something terrible.
  • Up to her waist in ice cold water, counts to 100. The girls run.
  • Cold and shock sets in as lies on

her back beside the creek.

  • Nothing hurts any more.
  • Sees Virgin Mary. She has been heard.
  • Mother approaches, running.
  • Telling the truth about Cordelia is still unthinkable for me.
  • 2 days off school.
  • Cordelia: I think Elaine should be punished for telling on us, don’t you?
  • I see that I don’t have to do what she says, and, worse and better, I’ve never had to do what she says. I can do what I like.
  • They have pushed her too far. She sees that it’s a game, and she refuses to play.
breaking free
Breaking free
  • I keep walking...Nothing binds me to them. I am free.
  • They need me for this, and I no longer need them. I am indifferent to them. There’s something hard in me, crystalline, a kernel of glass.
  • After real trauma, Elaine has been hardened and is impervious to school yard torment.
  • She refuses to play with them.
  • Invincibility is appealing. Reading her brother’s comics, she would like to have superpowers.
viii half a face
  • Elaine visits Catholic churches searching.
  • Especially sought out the statues.
  • Statues of the Virgin Mary approached with hope, always disappointed.
    • They were dolls dressed up, insipid in blue and white, pious and lifeless.
  • She is looking for a different version of iconic womanhood (apart from the Smeaths and catalogue ladies).
  • Sees a Virgin of lost things.
  • This Virgin is real, has a purpose.
  • What has Elaine lost?
  • Ben finds her on the floor.
  • So?
  • Comparison of Cordelia at 12/13 with her daughters – the same folded arms, the same immobile face, the blank-eyed stare. “So?”
  • How can you respond to someone who feels no remorse for her action.
  • I’ve forgotten things, I’ve forgotten that I’ve forgotten them.
  • I am happy as a clam: hard-shelled, firmly closed.
  • Closed against the past/memories of torment.
  • It is talked about only euphemistically – bad time.
cordelia falls apart
Cordelia falls apart
  • Perdie: She’s turning into a hardrock...You’ll flunk your year again.
  • Pressure from parents. Overshadowed by impressive and grown-up sisters
  • Cordelia starts pinching things from stores.
    • It’s as if she’s won a prize
  • Compensating for the absence of positive feedback at home.
mum doesn t give a hoot
Mum – doesn’t give a hoot
  • Fairly indifferent to home furnishings
    • It’s as if, like a cat, she cannot see things unless they are moving.
  • Wears what she likes.
  • Taken up ice-dancing.
  • Embarrassing for to a teenager. But the idea of not giving a hoot is appealing.
brainy brother
Brainy brother
  • Plays chess with friends.
  • Little communication.
  • Brother studies.
  • A lot of the time my brother doesn’t seem aware of me.
  • He remains a presence in her life though. The bond is still there.
two dimensional universe
Two-dimensional universe
  • Stephen’s influence – he doesn’t want me to be a pin-headed fuzzbrain.
  • Visualizing infinity - Klein bottle, Mobius strip.
  • We’re limited by our own sensory equipment. Time is a dimension. We can’t separate it from space. Space time is what we live in.
  • He says that if we knew enough, we could walk through walls as if they were air...[and] travel through time, back into the past.
  • Cordelia thinks Stephen is a brain and that if he weren’t so cute he’d be a pill.
    • Pill: a person who is tiresome/boring
  • Teaches canoeing at boys’ summer camp. The precise descriptions of his letters contrast with Cordelia’s hyperbolic language.
ix leprosy
  • Picture of Cordelia – Half a Face
  • Did we ever see Cordelia’s true self?
  • Significance of the mask in the background? A trophy?
  • I’m not afraid of seeing Cordelia. I’m afraid of being Cordelia. Because in some way we changed places, and I’ve forgotten when.
  • Smeaths in our rendition of them are charmless, miserly, heavy as dough, boring as white margarine, which we claim they eat for dessert.
  • Now Elaine and Grace have changed places. Elaine now taunts alongside of Cordelia.
    • This is for me a deeply satisfying game. I can’t account for my own savagery.