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ENG215H1 Lecture Notes - Mavis Gallant, Jean Harlow, Nail Polish

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Sarah Caskey

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"My Heart is Broken" Mavis Gallant (sp?)
Gallant's style: Affectless, emotional trauma, etc.
o Themes: difficulty of communication, disappoints form misguided expectations, heartbreaks
from the inability to bridge differences.
MHiB is set in Canada and deals with the above mentioned issues/themes.
Deals with sexual assault.
Narrative: how are we first introduced to Mrs. Thompson and Jeanie?
o Mrs. Thompson - the main shock of her life is something that is unrelated to her.
She might be a trivial woman.
o Mrs. Thompson talk a lot and Jeanie has no response. Shows the dynamic of their
o Reference to Jean Harlow. What is the connection with Jeanie?
Mrs. Thompson is not described physically, but Jeanie is objectified by her body parts.
She's silent, objectified. Her posture resembles the poses that pin-up girls like Jean
Harlow would have had.
o We never learn Mrs. Thompson's first name. Large age difference with Jeanie. They are
o Assumptions about the two?
Jeanie is more lightened, more liberal.
Mrs. Thompson is a product of her time.
BUT Gallant tries to show that the age difference doesn't quite a huge gap between
the two.
Story represents the time - The Depression.
o Men not giving up bus seat for a woman. Loss of job = loss of masculinity.
Fading of gender roles.
Mrs. Thompson given canned stuff and preserves - metaphor of her ideas of sexual assault.
o She's reserved lots of these canned stuffs and preserves - from her mother.
Jeanie's bottle of Cutex nail polish - shows pointiness in a certain direction.
o She struggles in the world that she lives in.
o Idolizes Jean Harlot and has Mrs. Thompson's old-fashioned views of sexual conduct.
o The Cutex shows the divide - cute and sex.
Shows Jeanie's challenge of understanding the culture that gives her diverse message
about sex.
References to romanticize/idolize or sanitize sexual relations.
o Hollywood culture does both - sexualizes idols, but romanticizes sex in Hollywood movies.
o Pg. 132-middle - reference to the dwarf songs that plays in Mrs. Thompson's gramophone.
Romanticized reference to a couple spooning in a park.
Jeanie was "scared to death."
o Pg. 132-bottom - the Thompson's bedroom is very childish. Separate beds, teddy bears,
o Pg. 136-top - "Maureen was the Thompson's youngest doll."
o Mrs. Thompson's immature reaction to Jeanie's rape…
133 - Mrs. Thompson agrees that two men are needed for a rape so insinuates that
Jeanie is lying.
Blames the rape on Jeanie acting "cute" and dancing around.
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