Jeffery Cohen's Seven Monster Theses By Karen Russell

1309 Words 6 Pages
In "Seven Monster Theses", Jeffery Cohen develops an idea that “monsters” are essential to society. In fact, they construct what is “normal”, “rational”, and “civilized”. Specifically, “monsters” are foundational to how we view ourselves. “Monsters” contain all the traits deemed unacceptable and odd. It can be concluded that every outlier is a “monster”. In “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves”, Karen Russell tells the story of a pack of wolf girls who are transitioning into young ladies. Russell delves into society’s need for conformity and gender roles. The story is told from the point of view of the middle wolf girl, Claudette, and follows her on her journey from wolf to woman. Jeffery Cohen’s idea of monster culture plays an important …show more content…
This resistance allows for growth and conflict. Readers can see the inner conflict Claudette faces through the phrases she constantly tells herself, “Mouth shut, I repeated, shoes on feet” (“The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference” 231). Claudette has to remind herself to stay within the lines of feminine normality defined by the nuns. This says a lot about the societal view of the woman, which can easily be described as a mindset that women were just pretty faces there to obey their husbands. By saying, “mouth shut”, the idea is that women should be seen and not heard, a common theme of the time and “shoes on feet” represents the need for a woman’s appearance to always be put together. This is just one of the multiple poles that make up ‘the gate of difference’ Claudette faces. This specific pole can be described as the challenge of societal femininity because before attending St. Lucy’s, Claudette did not think that her wolf traits made her less of a woman. She was told by the nuns that her wolf-ness was not …show more content…
Because she is in the middle, readers are able to see the different sides of “the gate” in Jeanette and Mirabella. Jeanette “was the most successful” and “the one most removed from her origin” (Russell 232). She easily adapted and was treated by the nuns as the goal for the other girls. On the other hand, Mirabella was the complete opposite. She was very adamant about not becoming a “lady”. In terms of Jeanette and Mirabella, the ‘gate’ is shown to be enforced when Claudette says the girls are “torn between [their] instinct to help her and [their] new fear” (Russell 228). During this decision stage, although Claudette is adapting to the host culture, she is faced with the difficult decision to follow Jeanette, who represents societal femininity, or Mirabella, who represents individualism. Claudette is stuck between the two and the outside forces don’t make her decision easier. Her choice is made easier, when the nuns say things like “Why can’t you be more like your sister?’ to Claudette on a regular basis (Russell 231).. If Jeanette is seen as “the norm”, Claudette automatically sees herself as inferior, thus becoming a “monster” in society eyes. She is also troubled by the thought of not becoming “the norm”, saying to herself “What will become of me?”. According to Cohen’s thesis I, a monster is born at “certain cultural moment”

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