Child Abuse and Trauma: A Study of Alice Walker's "By the Light of My Father's Smile"

ratna hasanthi dhavaleswarapu


By the Light of My Father’s Smile (1998) is about the celebration of the Eros, and the bitter-sweet relationship between fathers and daughters.  It talks about the importance of father-daughter relationships, in the making of better, stronger, women. Walker through the novel focuses on the fact that, fathers make invaluable contribution towards the making of self-reliant daughters. The novel contends for the celebration of female sexuality blessed by fathers. It primarily focuses on how child abuse, even in the form of child beating can destroy the personality of a child, and can be extremely traumatic throughout life. Gender norms become a bane when the interests of girls regarding their basic rights like education, health, sexuality and ways of living are taken into account. Fathers privilege patriarchal interests, much against the benefit of their daughters, as they too are conformed and misguided by patriarchy. The novel brings into focus the Robinsons, a black family and the odds faced by them as blacks. Above all, it focuses on their daughters Susannah and Magdalena whose lives remain highly influenced, constrained and wrecked by patriarchy. This paper focuses on the relationship between Robinson and his daughters and showcases how an occasion of child beating, completely destroys the life of his elder daughter Magdalena inside out. Walker through the novel urges fathers to be benevolent, caring, and understanding guardians of faith, trust and well-being for their daughters. She makes an appeal to all fathers, to create confidence, self-reliance and resilience in their daughters and make them successful women leading wholesome lives.


relationships; self-reliance; traumatic; sexuality; patriarchy; fathers; daughters

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