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Virginia Woolf and the Common(wealth) Reader$
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Helen Wussow and Mary Ann Gillies

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780989082679

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780989082679.001.0001

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date: 16 December 2017

Proportion, Conversion, Transition

Proportion, Conversion, Transition

War Trauma and Sites of Healing in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony

Chapter:
(p.190) Proportion, Conversion, Transition
Source:
Virginia Woolf and the Common(wealth) Reader
Author(s):

Kristin Czarnecki

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9780989082679.003.0023

This chapter presents a reading of Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony. These novels depict the trauma suffered by two male veterans of war: Septimus Warren Smith, an English veteran of the First World War, and Tayo, a Laguna Pueblo man who fought in the Pacific Islands during World War Two. Both young men return from war psychologically and emotionally shattered. Each has witnessed the brutal death of a man he loved; each suffers from flashbacks and hallucinations; each contends with guilt and self-accusations; and each confronts doctors unable or unwilling to administer proper treatment. Both characters also have disorienting urban experiences and sense a fraught connection with the natural world. Complicating their trauma is their inability to fulfill Western culture's proscribed gender roles. The books share stylistic similarities in their shifts in space, time, and perspective—anti-authoritarian narrative modes that help develop their comparable themes. They also strive to reject the witchery and highlight feminine principles as keys to psychological and cultural health. The novels diverge, however, when Septimus commits suicide and Tayo begins to heal after re-immersing himself in Laguna culture and accepting his biracial identity.

Keywords:   Virginia Woolf, Leslie Marmon Silo, veterans, trauma, Septimus Warren Smith, Tayo, gender role

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