Claire’s Head and Pain: Beyond the Sign of the Weapon


A difficult subject to broach in society because of its nature as complaint, pain is believed to be a difficult topic of English scholarship because of its evasion of linguistic capture. This article applies Elaine Scarry’s ideas concerning the absence of an adequate language of pain to Catherine Bush’s Claire’s Head to demonstrate that representations of pain do occur beyond the sign of the weapon. Emmanuel Levinas’ concept of the inter-human is used to extend Scarry’s ideas around the destructive “language of pain” into a more constructive, creative model. This thesis demonstrates how literary narratives can help scholars and readers, including medical practitioners, interpret pain in new ways so as to gain a better understanding of pain as a sensory and emotional experience.

This article “Claire’s Head and Pain: Beyond the Sign of the Weapon” originally appeared in Emerging Scholars 2. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 228-229 (Spring/Summer 2016): 73-90.

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