Physical Responses to Trauma

Examining Behavioural Reactions in Brian Friel's Give Me Your Answer, Do! and Eimear McBride's A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing

in Critical Survey
Author: Chu He1
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  • 1 Indiana University South Bend
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This article compares Brian Friel's play Give Me Your Answer, Do! with Eimear McBride's novel A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing to inquire into why the characters react to their traumas with seemingly aberrant behaviours. These two modern Irish works seem to suggest that the characters find a devious, physical way of self-preservation when combatting their extremely powerless state of traumatisation, which exposes our conflicting drives in the face of trauma: although trauma is mostly associated with death drive towards self-destruction, we cannot overlook its connection to life drive. By analysing these traumatised characters’ bodies as the very platform on which the symbiosis of the two opposing instincts is staged, this article explores trauma's indelible impacts on the body and the body's troubled resilience.

Contributor Notes

Chu He received a PhD from the University of Miami in 2009, with a dissertation on Brian Friel. She is now Associate Professor in the Department of English at Indiana University South Bend, and her interests include Irish studies, drama, post-colonialism, and trauma studies. She has published in various journals including New Hibernia Review and Women's Studies.


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