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A Broken Women

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Denise Calito

April 19, 2015

English 68

Peter Churchill

                                                A broken women 

                Some women use their beauty and talent to manipulate men to get what they want or to get some sort of advantage. In the short story by Cathy Day “Jennie Dixianna- or the secret to the Spin of Death” the main character is Jennie, who is an acrobat in the Great Porter Circus and Menagerie, Jennie uses her beauty and personality to gain control and power over men, as well as to gain fame. Having a traumatic childhood leaves her struggling to find her own personality. Jennie has three major personality traits that leaves her struggling to figure out who she is, which are a broken personality, the idea of power, and the need to control people.  

Jennie’s relationship with her father, Slater Marchette, goes from a loving relationship to a broken one that causes her to lose her personality. Jennie lost her personality the day her mother died. Since that day, Jennie was forced to take the role of her mother and father. “Jennie was the man and women of the house: cook, farmer, laundress, barter” (35) Slater abused his daughter at a young age, while aggressively raping his daughter, he took away her ability to trust men. “Ripping her dress open, dragging her by her hair before he fell on top of her. He always cried, during and after. Jennie never cried” (35) Slater broke Jennie’s personality every time he abused her, although Jennie was strong while she was being abuse, it would leave her with issues that would affect the rest of her relationships in her life

The relationship between Sister and Jennie is a strong relationship sister shows Jennie how to get power. Sister is more like a second mother to Jennie, while Slater is busy digging for lost treasure and not being a father. Jennie would go down to Sisters house and eat. At the age of sixteen, Jennie finally told Sister about her dad abusing her. Sister, in a way, helps Jennie kill her father, not as helping her but by leading her on. Sister pushes the idea that she needs to kill her dad, by killing her dad she reclaims power and control of her life back. “Sister picked up a shovel, swung it over her shoulder like a spike-driving hammer, and then handed it to Jennie. Sister whispered, "Your mama wouldn't have it no other way." (40) Also by helping Jennie kill her father Sister is gaining power back herself. (As a slave, b helping kill Slater, Sister is gaining power back for herself as well. Back in 1865, African Americans did not have power. The treatment of slaves in the United States varied by time and place but was brutal and degrading. Slaves were usually whipped, also rape was common. Slaves were prevented from becoming literate to hinder aspirations for escape. Sister was taking back her freedom and claiming her own personality when she was helping out Jennie.

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