The public as devouring mother: "The agonized face" by Mary Gaitskill and "Slammerkin" by Emma Donoghue

Izabela Morska


The author of this chapter analyses the short story "The agonized face" by Mary Gaitskill, with the help of, among other texts, J. M. Coetzee's essay "The harms of pornography" (from Giving Offence), to argue that the reviewer positions herself as a censor not simply to limit the writer's creative expression but to obliterate her very existence. The reviewer's punitive attitude, expressed by the synecdoche of "the agonized face", stands for a set of cultural circumstances that continue to affect women writers, especially when it comes to taboo subjects such as prostitution. Thus "The agonized face" requires the reader to actively oppose the narrator's depersonalizing devices; the resistant reader must stand up to the unreliable narrator and, braving her scorn, connect with the disparaged writer, if only to avoid taking part in the devouring act. Similarly, in the second part of this chapter, the novel Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue is discussed as an illustration of the prostitute as a queer figure of failure (following Halberstam’s work).
Author Izabela Morska (FL / IEAS)
Izabela Morska,,
- Institute of English and American Studies
Publication size in sheets1.35
Book Braid Barbara, Glapka Ewa, Siemiątkowska Malwina (eds.): Ambiguous selves: contesting gender binaries in literature, film and the media, 2019, Cambridge Scholars Publishing , ISBN 978-1-5275-3953-2, 338 p.
Keywords in English"The agonized face", "Slammerkin", prostitution in literature, censorship, feminism, failure
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)5
Score sourcepublisherList
ScoreMinisterial score = 5.0, 28-01-2020, MonographChapterAuthor
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