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The Defining Moment - Alice Sebold's Lucky

The Defining Moment - Alice Sebold's Lucky

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Published by Brian Kern
A analytical examination of Alice Sebold and her autobiographical novel "Lucky".
A analytical examination of Alice Sebold and her autobiographical novel "Lucky".

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Published by: Brian Kern on Apr 22, 2009
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05/11/2014

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The Defining Moment
Brian M. Kern10151214CJUS 4650 – Victimology
 
As part of the course curriculum for Victimology CJUS 4650, we were required to read
 Lucky
, a novel written by Alice Sebold in 1999, which describes the horrific rape she enduredwhile attending Syracuse University. Ms. Sebold, an underclassman, was assaulted by a black man, dragged kicking and screaming into a dark tunnel near a campus park, and then raped. Shefought her attacker using her body and her mind, and while she lacked the physical strength tohalt her own victimization, she demonstrated the incredible courage and mental strength to later identify her attacker, and put him behind bars.(Sebold,1999)I had difficulty reading this novel, from its very graphic beginning. I am a father, of adaughter, and the truth is that I had trouble disassociating myself from the emotions the storyinvoked. The question “what if this had been my daughter?” kept coming to my mind as I readMs. Sebold’s story. I made it through the first few chapters however, and took courage from thefact that Ms. Sebold had been forced to live through the events, not once, not even twice, butmany times. Throughout the story, I was confronted with a basic truth. That Alice Sebold,despite her predilection for word smithing, for her ability to weave poetry, no matter what talentsshe possessed as a child, no matter how hard her parents tried to protect her, and no matter whatoccupation and future opportunities that lie ahead of her, the defining moment of Alice Sebold’slife will always be the Rape.Whether or not Alice Sebold had a happy childhood is something that could be debated.Her description of growing up with an alcoholic mother, an emotionally impaired father, and anintroverted older sister, certainly paints a dismal picture. I could sense that there were happymoments, like her playfully allowing the family dogs to enter her mothers room for some animalthievery that set the house in an uproar. Or the time she placed ice cubes at the foot of her father’s hotel room bed, resulting in an ice cube fight. (Sebold,1999) But I still believe that
 
growing up must have been difficult. She was the black sheep, the odd one, the extrovertedtalker who followed neither of her parent’s career or intellectual paths. Her interest lay outsidethe curriculum her parents imposed upon themselves. She dabbled in music, and then art,frequently the first creative mediums an artist of any kind is exposed too. (Sebold,1999)Throughout her narrative describing her childhood, no one event stands clear as a moment whereAlice Sebold’s character is defined. Many children develop a talent, or a sense of themselves,the direction they might take in the future. With Alice, that defining moment did not come untilher freshman year at Syracuse University.I have read that victims of violent sexual crime respond in a variety of ways, from denial,to open proclamation, and in the course of her book, Ms. Sebold also gives these same examples.Alice Sebold chose proclamation, her voice a loud cry that expressed her desires for retributionand justice. Already moving toward the artistic expression of the poet, she penned a poementitled “Conviction”, a graphic declaration that began “If they caught you…” That poemchanged the lives of many people. It allowed Alice to express her anger, her outrage, her humiliation, and her needs. A fellow classmate, who had been raped herself, denying the truth of the event, was shattered by the poem. Alice used her artistic talent, delivering the message thatwas most important to her, and the force, the driving muse behind that writing, was the Rape.It is evident from her comments and need to tell others of her experience, that the Rapehas become the primary focus of her life. On the day after the Rape, her father had offered her something to eat, and she had replied glibly, “That would be nice, considering the only thing I’vehad in my mouth in the last twenty-four hours is a cracker and a cock.” Her parents wereshocked and Alice responded with “I’m still me, Dad.” (Sebold,1999) But while the underlying patterns of the old Alice Sebold still remained, a new imprint had been stamped upon them.

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