Simple Summaries


Mary Gordon

Simple Summary by Sarah Frank

Violation is an excerpt from Temporary Shelter by Mary Gordon

·      “I should feel grateful to have experienced only two instances of sexual violation”

·      “I am the mother of two sons, my passion for whom causes me to draw inward, away, when I hear the indiscriminate castigation of all males”

·      “We considered ourselves in the great line of student pilgrims admiring ourselves for our self-denial, traveling as we did with backpacks and hostel cards and a few volumes of poetry” (college roomie Lydia post-graduation)

o  “in Piazzole Michaelangelo, I met Giovanni, who sold Electrolux vacuum cleaners”

o  “I left Giovanni tearfully, vowing to write. He bought us chocolates and bottles of acqua minerale for the train. Then we were off, heartlessly, to our next adventure”

·      In Swansea

o  “He brought us drinks and I tried to encourage him to talk about himself, his home, his travels”

o  “he suggested another pub. I said I had to begoing, I didn't want to be late for the boat. He told me not to worry, he knewa shortcut; we could go there now.”

o  “I don t know when I realized I was in danger, but at some point I knew the path we were on was leading nowhere near other people. When he understood that I was not deceived, he felt no more need to hesitate. He must have known I would not resist, he didn't have to threaten. He merely spoke authoritatively, as if he wanted to get on with things.”

o  He makes her take off her clothes

o  He pulls out her tampon

o  He asks if she is a virgin and she says no and he says “then you know what’s what”

o  “In a few seconds, everything was finished, and he was on his feet. He turned his back to me to dress.”

·      “He kissed me on the cheek. "Now don't goon like all these American ladies about how terrible we are to ye. Just remember, treat a man right, he'll treat you right."”

·      “I traveled through Ireland for ten days, speaking to no one.”

·      “my shame at having been ravished, my dread of the implication, however slight, that I had "asked for what had happened, that my unwisdom was simply a masked desire for a coupling anonymous and blank. And so I have been silent about that time without good cause; how, then, could I ever speak of the second incident, which could, if I exposed it, unravel the fabric of my family's life?”

·      Uncle William = father’s only brother

o  “It was nearly four when I realized there was someone near me, kneeling on the floor. Only gradually, I understood that it was my Uncle William, stroking my arm and breathing whiskey in my face.”

o  “I could see behind my eyes years of my father's proud solicitude for the man now running his hand toward my breast,”

o  “I was frozen into my position: any move would mean exposure and so punishment. At the same time that the danger of my situation stiffened me into immobility”

·      “Twenty years later as I lay, desperately strategizing, watching my uncle I knew the memory was odd, but it stayed with me as I simulated flippancy, the only tactic I could imagine that would lead to my escape.”

·      “My great fear was that I would betray, by some lapse of warmth or interest in the morning, my uncle's drunken act. I longed for my parents' protection, yet I saw that it was I who must protect them”

·      “the Irishman is gone and Uncle William, here before me, has grown old and weak. I can see him from the window, I can see the three of them. Him and my parents. They lean on one another, playful, tender; they have been together a lifetime”