Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access

Claire's Head and Pain: Beyond the Sign of the Weapon

Shane Neilson


A difficult subject to broach in society because of its nature as complaint, pain is believed to be a difficult topic of English scholarship because of its evasion of linguistic capture. This article applies Elaine Scarry’s ideas concerning the absence of an adequate language of pain to Catherine Bush’s Claire’s Head to demonstrate that representations of pain do occur beyond the sign of the weapon. Emmanuel Levinas’s concept of the inter-human is used to extend Scarry’s ideas around the destructive “language of pain” into a more constructive, creative model. This thesis demonstrates how literary narratives can help scholars and readers, including medical practitioners, interpret pain in new ways so as to gain a better understanding of pain as a sensory and emotional experience.

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright* © 1995-2017 Canadian Literature. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission prohibited. Views and opinions expressed by the author(s) are not necessarily shared by Canadian Literature.

* While Canadian Literature has first serial rights for content within the CanLit Poets archive, the full copyright remains with the poets.