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Correspondence with Keith Banner

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As some of you know, while writing my major paper on The Wedding of Tom to Tom, I stumbled upon Keith Banner’s Facebook page, and sent him an email telling him how much I liked his short-story, letting him know about our course, and directing him to this blog. At his request, I thought I would share his correspondence with me.

His initial response: Wow. I love when this happens. It does not happen a lot, of course, but that story has a few fans, and truthfully it’s one of my own faves of what I’ve written. So glad you are “using it.” Thanks so much for your kind words and I look forward to reading your paper… Keith

Then last Wednesday: Amanda, someone sent me a link to your paper about my story. Just out of blue I read it yesterday. Wrote this blog about it. Thank you so much and please relay the thanks to your prof and other students… Keith

Here’s is the link to the blog he wrote about the experience of reading my paper: http://twoplustwoequalsfive-tskyinc.blogspot.com/2010/11/tom-tom-bliss.html

He apparently was very touched by my analysis, but also was impressed with what we’ve been doing as a class.
Here’s an excerpt from the blog-post that also acknowledges the monologue project!

A true example of 2 + 2 = 5: me the writer writing something wholeheartedly dedicated to reinventing the way people view characters with developmental disabilities in literature, and ten years later a writer takes what I did and gives it back to me fully reinvigorated. Wow. Another example on the same blog is four students in the class creating monologues based on some of the characters in my story that I did not give a lot of voice and agency to. Reading those monologues made me cry too.
Maybe I’m just some overemotional freak (well wait a minute: yes I am that), but also I think that this is probably a pretty normal thing that happens to writers all the time. This is just my first time. It was Amanda and the other students’ thoroughness that got me.
Thanks to ENGL 375A2 at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia…

Written by gormanda

November 29th, 2010 at 11:26 am

Helen’s formal blog post on Banner’s “The Wedding of Tom to Tom”

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“I mean, I’m not against love. I’m not against human sexuality. I’m against obsession. Those two are obsessed. I mean. I talked to Mr. Allen, Tom A.’s guardian last night on the phone, and he told me they’ve been like that since Orient, since they were boys, and it’s hard to stop that kind of behavior. I mean, you can’t. So we’re just gonna move Tom A. over to Franklin Street… I mean, what I’m afraid of is that they are gonna end up hurting each other. Physically…when I walked in on them the other morning, Tom A., excuse me, but Tom A. was anally penetrating Tom B.”
The way she said “penetrating,” I had to laugh.

Kate Anderson-Malloy, the head caretaker in Keith Banner’s The Wedding of Tom to Tom, draws a line between what she perceives as the difference between “love” and “obsession” when she decides to have Tom A. and Tom B. separated. She cites no institutional regulation that states that the two cannot be allowed to be together, nor does Tom A.’s guardian imply that he requires of Kate that the behavior be stopped. Kate’s assumption—that these two “retarded” people cannot make decisions for themselves despite their seeming lucidity and competence—is complicated by the fact that Tom and Tom are in a homosexual relationship. The implied judgment behind Kate’s decision is that Tom A. and Tom B. are only together because their mental illnesses impair their ability to choose “appropriate” partners. Kate categorizes the two Tom’s “deviant” sexual behavior as symptoms of their greater instability.

All of the caretakers, including Anita and Kate in the quoted passage, seem to be uncomfortable with the idea of Tom A. and Tom B. having sex. It is impossible, here, to separate their discomfort of seeing two “retarded” people having sex from their discomfort with homosexuality generally. Anita laughs at the idea of the two men having anal sex, as do her coworkers. None of them speak out against the move, but neither have they separated Tom and Tom with much decisiveness in the past: the two men’s desire for each other seems to be accepted as a kind of eccentricity that is indulged in the context of the institution, but widely acknowledged to be socially unacceptable. The two Toms are treated like children, as if they were five and had been caught kissing chastely on the playground: it is cute, but ultimately inappropriate. Tom and Tom are not allowed to make this decision for themselves not because they are too young, but presumably because they are “too retarded” to choose an “appropriate” partner.

Because the two Tom’s sexuality does not manifest in more “normal” heterosexual ways, Tom and Tom wanting to be together is regarded as “obsession” rather than “love.”  “Obsessive” behavior is something quantifiable, a commodity that Kate can legitimately seek to control or eradicate in her patients because it is a sign of mental instability. Kate talks of being afraid of the two men “hurting each other,” but she also mentions that Tom A.’s guardian said Tom and Tom had been together for years without much incident. Anita never mentions either of the Tom’s guardians speaking out about having the Toms separated. Kate’s decision to move them apart, then, becomes a matter of her own discomfort.

Although Kate admits that “it’s hard to stop that kind of behavior. I mean, you can’t,” she endeavors to end it regardless because there is some unspoken difference between what the Toms are doing and what two people in love would do. Their love is, to the caretakers, adorable up to a point, but it is only taken seriously inasmuch as Kate believes they are capable of hurting each other. Their homosexual relationship is labeled as “obsession,” a term which, for Kate, changes their relationship into a symptom of mental illness, a quantifiable thing which she has control over and plans to eradicate.

Written by Helen

November 3rd, 2010 at 9:27 am

Mairin Martin’s Formal Blog Post on Patrick McGrath’s Spider (part 3)

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“[The creatures] have learned too, the insidious technique of taking the content of my days thoughts and rendering it filthy or absurd or grotesque, and sometimes even as I’m writing I can’t stop myself looking up, I see a skewed imitation of the very matter on the page in front of me- see now! See them do it now! See how huge my hands are, disproportionately huge, and my face long and yellow with the skin flaking off in a shower like the scales of a cod under the fish monger’s knife! Oh see him fumbling there, the poor monster, fumbling with his pencil with those great misshapen paws- the pencil so tiny and delicate now as he tried to grasp and manipulate it- and I tear my eyes away, force myself back to the book…”
– Spider pg. 213

As Dennis goes longer and longer without his medications, his mind sinks further and further in to the realm of the world he creates with his schizophrenia. While in this state of mind, Dennis no longer has control over the splitting of himself into different beings. As he unravels, the narrator reveals to the reader the reasons behind his need to create Spider, to displace the blame for his mother’s murder. With an unlocked mind, Dennis allows himself to remember that he killed his mother. Immediately upon doing so, the narrator reverts to speaking of Spider in the third person. This time, it is not with a loving and sentimental voice that he speaks of Spider, as he did earlier in the novel, reflecting on the only times of contentment in his life which were spent alone with his mother who called him Spider because she knew that was who he really was. Now that the narrator has discovered he is responsible for his mother’s death he speaks of the Spider in himself as an “other”. There is a man separate from himself who is writing in his diary. This man, Spider, is a monster. Dennis wants to be able to blame someone else for his horrific actions and so he creates Spider. Here, Dennis is displaying the desire of the “normal” people to reassure themselves of their normality by dwelling on the monstrosity of the “others”. Dennis’ half of the brain, the “good lunatic” side, describes Spider as a monster in order to make sense of why he would murder his mother.

Another result of the lack of medication is that the creatures are not only more prevalent, but they have become more active beings, beginning just as loud voices scuffling in the attics then speaking directly to Spider (“kill her”) and now openly mocking and ridiculing the narrator. Rather than subject himself to this torture, the narrator pulls himself aside and leaves Spider behind. In this way, he can be Dennis and he can be on the stronger side; he can be one of the crowd and join with the creatures in the attic, mocking the deformed Spider rather than sitting weak and lonely, the object of their ridicule. Through the mechanics of blame and desperation to separate himself from the part responsible for his mother’s death, the narrator begins to show, for the first time, the origins of his schizophrenia that are based in the need to shift blame from himself. In doing so, Dennis displays an acute sense of understanding of social norms. He attempts to convince himself of his normality and sanity by casting out and chastising the “other”, the Spider, within him. He uses the mentally disabled part of himself as a scapegoat for the actions for which he is too weak to take responsibility.

Written by Mairin Martin

November 1st, 2010 at 9:44 am

Sarah S.’s Formal Blog Post on Spider pt 1

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“It was the cloak of spectral unreality I loved, the cloak it spread over the familiar forms of the world. All was strange in a fog, buildings grew vague, human beings groped and became lost, the landmarks, the compass points, by which they navigated melted into nothingness and the world was transfigured into a country of the blind. But if the sighted became blind, then the blind—and for some odd reason I have always regarded myself as one of the blind—the blind became sighted, and I remember feeling at home in a  fog, happily at ease in the murk and gloom that so confused my neighbors. I moved quickly and confidently through fog-blanketed streets, unvisited by the terrors that lurked everywhere in the visible material world; I stayed out as late as I could in a fog.” (page 67)

Spider is unique in that we get a close (legible) inner monologue from a mentally disabled character. Certain passages, such as the one above, give us a valuable insight into the thought process of a mentally disabled person (although it would help to know what disability). In the passage above, we see Spider’s alienation from the world around him and his inability to cope with normal perspectives.

Spider’s love of fog sets him apart from his “neighbors,” from the normal inhabitants of the city and their behaviors. Most people are disoriented in the fog, not able to rely on their usual landmarks and sense of direction. Spider, because he is so unlike the rest of the population, likes when these roles are reversed, so that he can walk like a normal person would, unhindered through the streets. To Spider, the real fear is in the “visible material world,” which is blanketed by the fog and thus obscured. The fog covers over all of the stressful real world sights and sounds that Spider is unable to deal with because of his disability.

It is interesting when he says that he has considered himself as “one of the blind,” because it shows a strange self-awareness of this disability, but a misplaced awareness nonetheless. He seems to understand that he does not fit in with normal society, but cannot pinpoint exactly what is wrong with him that sets him apart. For instance, he has no perception that the voices in the attic aren’t actually there, but figures out that the gas is not leaking from him and he was just freaking out.

Spider does not fit in with the world around him, and thus enjoys the cloaking atmosphere of the fog because it allows him to behave “normally,” at least compared with the rest of the world.

Written by sarahsmile

October 27th, 2010 at 1:42 am

Sarah Smethurst’s Class Summary for October 15

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Deciphering Faulkner: Class Summary Essay

The Sound and the Fury: June 2, 1910

Class began with that ever-treasured opportunity—extra credit. After discussing the opportunity and the details of the hypertext edition specific to this section, we jumped right in. After a discussion of Benjy’s use as a narrative prosthesis, we discussed Quentin’s section, finding several points we could agree on. Faulkner lets us into Quentin’s head and uses the pioneering (and frustrating) stream of consciousness style to give us insight into a mentally disabled brain that we lack in the more obviously disabled Benjy’s narrative. We see his failed life, his confused sexuality, and his complicated and possibly fictionalized relationships in much sharper focus than the well-meaning but unreadable Benjy’s reading of events.

Because Benjy’s beginning narrative is so crucial to the rest of The Sound and the Fury, we spent the first part of class (re)iterating our small group discussion of the previous class. Dr. Foss (re)presented the question of whether Faulkner cares about Benjy as more than a narrative device, and whether he is a sympathetic character or simply a perpetuation of a derogatory stereotype. Despite protestations that devoting much space, especially prime opening chapter space, to a disabled character was an act of service, we were forced to consider that the time was spent (re)inforcing a stereotype. The fact remains that Benjy does little to make himself a sympathetic character—we get a lot of characterization and events through him, but little emotional language or an experiential lens at all. He doesn’t have much of his own voice, and instead speaks through others’ dialogue, despite the section being technically grounded in his consciousness. Besides all that, there are major doubts as to the accuracy of Benjy’s disability, which can be infantilizing and extremely limiting.

Finally, we reached the topical portion of the class—small group discussion on the next section of the book, as narrated by Quentin. Dr. Foss presented to us several questions about how we read Quentin’s character and possible disability (and how that comments on Benjy’s disability), how to explain the narrative (switches in style of stream of consciousness), and the roles of other characters in his life. As usual, my group didn’t manage to get to most of the questions, but we covered what we could.

First, we deviated long enough to discuss the parentage of Ms. Quentin (is she Quentin’s child? is that possible?). This theme of possible incest would show up in later classes, and appears to be an unusual textual fixation of my group. We then discussed whether or not Quentin was disabled himself, conjecturing that though he may “pass” in society as sane, he had many mental and emotional disabilities of his own. We pointed to the past issues and traumas in his life, and also to the imagery and symbolism in the section (the use of clocks and fixations on time). Quentin has obsessions and fixations that are debilitating, not to mention the clear anxiety, depression, and (planned) suicide.

Despite the common disability (though in different forms), we found many differences between Quentin and Benjy. Their perceptions of the world are different—Benjy’s is neutral or even removed, and Quentin has an overwhelmingly negative perspective. The stream of consciousness style gets ever stranger when Quentin is the narrator, and we covered the differences and similarities in style., especially the mid-sentence time and scene changes present in Quentin’s text. We also discussed how Benjy merely observes the outside world around him, placing no filters or biases on the action, while Quentin takes it all in and combines it with his own emotion. Thus, he is susceptible to what others think about him and is sensitive to teasing, especially about his sexual orientation.

We could draw little conclusions about Quentin’s sexuality from the text. It was unclear whether certain comments meant that Quentin was really gay, or whether he was simply representing or internalizing the teasing of classmates and others around him. We also questioned the reliability of Quentin as a narrator, proposing that it was possible and even probable for him to lie in his section, whether intentionally or not. It made us doubt the crucial section regarding Caddy as we looked for meaning in Quentin’s obsession with her. We divined that whether they really had sex or not did not matter as much as the fact that Quentin believes that they did. Most of his interactions with Caddy could conceivably be a figment of his altered imagination, but so long as he believes they occurred, they have a huge impact on his life and mental health. We would have delved much deeper into this topic but Dr. Foss ended class at this point. Perhaps we should have saved the incest discussion and devoted more time to the loaded relationship between Caddy and Quentin.

Benjy may or may not be a sympathetic figure, but the mind that we really get into in The Sound and the Fury is Quentin’s. Although Quentin is a supposed to be a more normal narrator, he suffers from a disability that rivals Benjy’s, which affects his interpersonal relationships, his sexuality, and the unique voice in the section entitled “June 2, 1910.” The last comment of class was a question highly relevant to this issue and posed by Dr. Foss—who, in this text, is the Sound, and who is the Fury? He suggests that it is Benjy who provides the Sound, and Quentin who fully supplies all the Fury the text needs.

919 words

Written by sarahsmile

October 20th, 2010 at 3:24 am

Mairin Martin’s Formal Blog Post on The Sound and The Fury

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“I’m afraid to.” Mother said. “With the baby.” Dilsey went up the steps. “You calling that thing a baby.” she said. She took Mother’s arm. “A man big as T.P. Come on, now, if you going.”
-The Sound and the Fury 18.2

“His name’s Benjy now, Caddy said.
How come it is, Dilsey said. He aint wore out the name he was born with yet, is he.
Benjamin came out of the bible, Caddy said. It’s a better name for him than Maury was.
How come it is, Dilsey said.
Mother says it is, Caddy said.”

-The Sound and the Fury 2.9

Through out this section of the narrative, both Benjy and his mother struggle with the absence of an essential language which will allow them to give a proper label to the things in their world. For the mother, this frustration is in the non-existence of a discourse which would help her to define Benjy. In the case of the quote above, she is likening him to the closest thing she can call him that fits within her schema, a baby. However, Dilsey points out how not only inadequate but incorrect this definition is for him (even though she cannot offer an alternative).

Her dependence upon finding a correct definition is so strong that Caroline even renames Benjy. In choosing a new name which is biblical, she is hoping to baptize him and make some kind of amends with God, seeing Benjy’s disability as a judgment upon her. Again, since she cannot understand him, she seeks to redefine him in the only terms which she knows, and the strongest instances of rebirth and redefinition which she knows are those of Baptism.

At this point in time there was no discussion (particularly in the society in which Caroline and her family live) of people with mental disabilities. She struggles for a way in which to define her son because the language literally did not yet exist. The only language available for people like Benjy was the pejorative and inaccurate words used by many of the other characters (idiot, etc).

Benjy himself reflects yet another problem which arises from this lack of discourse community, and additionally, lack of community at all in his absence of voice in a passage written completely from his own point of view which should, ostensibly, give him a voice. The majority of the chapter consists of direct quotations and conversations, other people’s words. When Benjy attempts to reconstruct parts of the narrative in the words of his recollection he struggles. Nothing is concretely named. Quentin’s shadow climbing out the window is only “it”. At Damuddy’s funeral Benjy repeatedly says the door opened and they could hear “it” (the mother sobbing most likely). When he is climbing over the ditch where the carcass was picked clean Benjy’s every other sentence mentions smelling “it”. The people down at the branch are only “they” and so on. In 8.3 Benjy at first describes the Charlie in the same way, “the one in the swing”. The next sentence Caddy calls him “Charlie” to Benjy and from then on he is referred to as Charlie. This is the clearest moment illustrating how completely Benjy’s world is defined for him by others. Like all those in his community of the mentally disabled, Benjy has no voice and struggles to understand a world which must be defined by those around him who are more “competent” and a world in which he is constantly being redefined by those same people so that he can fit into their understanding of life.

Written by Mairin Martin

October 12th, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Matthew Blakley’s Formal Post on John Steinback’s Of Mice and Men

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“Lennie turned his head and looked off across the pool and up the darkening slopes of the Gabilans. “We gonna get a little place,” George began. He reached in his side pocket and brought out Carlson’s Luger; he snapped off the safety, and the hand and gun lay on the ground behind Lennie’s back. He looked at the back of Lennie’s head, at the place where the spine and skull were joined” (100).

Preceding Lennie’s murder, George—while holding Carlson’s Luger—is successful in distracting Lennie with their “fatta the lan’” fantasy. Personally, ambiguity arose throughout the text regarding this plan, because the reader is lead to believe that it is both Lennie and George’s fantasy to have their own land (or life, really). But when such fantasy is used to mesmerize and ultimately become a distraction from Lennie’s death, it is clear that while the success story would create a better life for these nomads, George has really been using it as a mechanism to manipulate and/or alter Lennie’s actions. We see this control from the very beginning of the text when Lennie asks George, “how I get to tend the rabbits,” or, always stricken with anxiety, he repeatedly says things like, “[George] said if I done any more bad things he ain’t gunna let me tend no rabbits now” (16, 83).

It is obvious that though George may care for Lennie, an unhealthy codependent relationship has emerged because Lennie sees George as a God-like figure that controls his fate, and George sees Lennie as a child-like or disabled figure in need of a positive reinforcement system. Lennie’s mental disability is often denounced as him being “jus’ like a big baby,” or like a child (86). However, although their co-dependence is inherently disadvantaging both characters, the relationship is very altruistic. Lennie needs George to create a fantasy that euphemistically sustains his life and George needs Lennie to use as a bargaining tool for employment eligibility. And thus, if you apply this altruistic lens to the text’s ending, both characters get exactly what they want—because of Lennie, George has somewhat steady employment, and because of George, Lennie dies living in his unrealistic fantasy.

With this said, in the end, I offer that Lennie actually kills himself. Though it be unfair seeing as George pulled the trigger, it is Lennie’s lack of self-agency and “dutiful” obedience to George that ultimately murders him. I am tempted to say that Lennie’s mental disability is what kills him, but it would be generalizing, or stereotyping, people with mental disabilities as acting childlike or codependent. Here, I’m aligning these characteristics purely to Lennie’s personality, not his disability. This theme of absent self-agency is actually seen in this text before, with Curley’s wife’s death. Although Curley’s wife’s agency is essentially taken against her will, finally, her death lies in a crossfire between isolation and the fantasy that she “coulda been in the movies . . .” (84).

Written by Matthew

October 6th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Allison Miller’s Formal Blog Post on Caryl Churchill’s A Mouth Full of Birds

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Spirit: He’s

disgusting. He fills the

whole /room up.

 His hair smells. His

eyes have got yellow in

the corners. His ears

have got hairs on. His

nose has got big pores

and the nostrils are too

big and full of hair and

snot and he snores/

and snorts. His teeth are

yellow. His tongue’s


He swallows the air.

That’s why you don’t exist. (Churchill, 13-14)

A lot of people may think that the Spirit represents Lena’s mental disability which she struggles with in the play. I agree,  however, I think Lena’s struggle with the Spirit goes farther than mental disability. I argue that the Spirit creates physical imperfection in Roy. In other words, not only is Lena a victim of mental instability, but Roy is the the victim of physical disability made up by Lena’s subconscious mind. Churhill does this to show that mental disability has the power to control and manipulate physical disability.

What’s interesting is how the Spirit describes Roy’s face, by using a lot of graphic imagery. Notice how the Spirit uses the word yellow when describing different features, especially his eyes, tongue and teeth. To me, the yellow I imagine is a pale, dirty yellow, which gives him unclean look. His ears give me the image of a weeds overgrown and killing  flowers. When the Spirit points out the little details of Roy, they automatically become bigger in a sense that his look becomes unacceptable for Lena’s “clean” mind. In a way, the Spirit creates an ill, corpse like figure.

What’s really scary is when the Spirit says that Roy swallows the air, as well as filling up the whole room. One gets the image of pure air being sucked away because of Roy’s existence. Because Roy exists, he represents something bad spreading around that makes Lena unable to think straight. Because the Spirit creates Roy as physically disabled, he  persuades Lena that Roy is a disease that must be eliminated. When remnants of that disease are around, she cannot be “pure” in a sense, nor get rid of her mental illness (the Spirit). The only way she can get rid of Roy’s disease from spreading to her is to kill the baby, because the baby has Roy’s “tainted” blood. When Lena kills the baby, then she will exist and be happy again. It’s like Victor in Shelley’s Frankenstein, who thinks the Creature is abominable and fears a “tainted” world if he made a female for the Creature (because they might have children). What’s interesting is that there is no mention of an external factor that shuns Roy (society). Instead, the Spirit is controlling Roy’s exclusion, which means that Lena’s mind is classifying him as ugly and unacceptable to her.

Even though Lena did kill the baby, she forgets one thing; Roy. If the Spirit was right, then she would have to kill Roy as well in order to be free of his existence (or disease). Not only does Roy get upset about the murder, but the Spirit comes back and will continue to come back because of Roy’s existence. Lena’s subconscious leaves Roy losing his baby, therefore losing a part of himself through his daughter. However, that was the Spirit’s plan overall. He deceives Lena of being free from Roy’s imperfection as well as existing within a “clean” state of mind to show that the mind wants an ideal perception, but can’t have it.

Written by library1288

October 6th, 2010 at 10:07 am

Sarah’s Formal Blog Post on Dickinson’s Poems

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“Assent, and you are sane” –435

“Ourself behind ourself, concealed —/Should startle most —” –690

Emily Dickinson wrote hundreds of poem throughout her lifetime, so it stands to reason that a few would address disability. The three poems we read for today, 327, 435, and 690 all deal with disability from different viewpoints–327 even deals with a physical disability. For space purposes, I’ll focus on representations of mental disability in 435 (“Much Madness is divinest Sense–“) and 690 (“One need not be a Chamber–to be Haunted–“). In these poems, she argues that although mental disability can be a real and threatening thing, it is largely a social construct.

“One need not be a Chamber–to be Haunted–“, number 690 in her life’s work of poems, deals intimately with mental disability, using metaphor heavily to characterize madness and make the threat of it real. As the title suggests, there can be danger in metaphysical places, that is, the mind can be a battlefield even more so than any “Material Place” could. She lists the things that we fear more than a disease of the mind:  “…a Midnight Meeting/ External Ghost,” “an Abbey gallop,/ The Stones a’chase —,” and “Assassin hid in our Apartment.” In juxtaposition to these scenarios, she describes scenes of attack from one’s own mind, saying that outside attacks are safer by far “Than Unarmed, one’s a’self encounter —/ In lonesome Place —.” To Dickinson, mental disability is a real and very threatening reality, although we do not know if or to what extent she personally encountered it. To me, the fear in this poem in particular makes me think that if she did not fight it herself, she was at least afraid of madness, possibly for the perceived loss of intellect. It’s important to remember that hardly a handful of her poems were published in her lifetime, and most likely the majority of her poems were not written for any audience outside of Dickinson herself, which make them unusually reliable and unfettered by commercial intent.

435, or “Much Madness is divinest Sense–“, is one of Dickinson’s more well-known poems, and is often quoted. This short gem is all about how we normalize sanity and measure insanity against it. When she writes:  “‘T is the majority/In this, as all, prevails,” she refers to popular opinion being the ruler on which mental disability is measured, and then lays out a clear line between sane and insane. She says that if you agree with the majority and act as society dictates then you are considered mentally healthy (“Assent, and you are sane”). If you do not concur with this strict ideal, you are considered crazy and “handled with a chain.” This has interesting implications on Dickinson’s life–though we do not have evidence that she was certifiably insane, we do know that she lived an abnormal lifestyle and had characteristics that were not as readily accepted by society (i.e. lived alone most of her life, kept to herself, etc.). Whether or not her mental chamber is haunted, she was most likely marginalized and forced into a very small social construct.

These two poems support each other and together make a wider definition of mental disability in Dickinson’s sphere. When we consider possible personal applications to her poems, the experience is a unique one of her honest and un-influenced ideas and fears about disability, particuarly mental disability–that it was real and scary, but still largely socially constructed.