Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting Naked

Getting naked results in several emotions, most of which are generally considered to be undesirable. One is vulnerable in that they are totally known by someone. There is no way of hiding and no protection. Being naked, however, can also be liberating and relieving. The pressure to conceal is gone and is replaced by a trust in the person to which one is revealed. Getting naked is not always physical, either. Revealing honestly one’s true feelings and self is also a form of nakedness.
In They Who Do Not Grieve, nakedness is avoided by most at all costs. Secrets abound and the threat of revealing past shame prevents the characters from allowing themselves to truly be known. Knowing the relief of honestly sharing oneself comes with an inherent risk of embarrassment and shame. For some characters, like Fue, the price of shame is low compared to the benefit of freedom. After having been oppressed for years by her mother’s obsession with pride and extreme fear of shame, Fue wants to reveal herself both physically and emotionally. She is driven from her native culture and seeks the approval of white men so that she can reveal herself to them without feeling the judgment of her people and her culture.

Tausi, however, lives with the shame of her tattoo, something that usually would provide comfort. It is said that a woman with a tattoo never feels truly naked because she is protected, but Tausi feels constantly naked because of her tattoo. The constant reminder of the suffering of Lalolagi eats away at Tausi. This shame is more than she can bear and her nakedness pains her instead of setting her free. Instead, she embraces pride to the extent that she oppresses herself and her children. Because of her permanent shame she clings to pride to hide what she hates. She builds walls to hide her nakedness, but can never hide her shame.

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