Self-Confrontation

Horror, as Bruce Kawin says in his essay on the matter Children of the Light, “functions as a mirror or series of mirrors in which aspects of the self demand to be confronted” (240). Throughout our discussions on Bell’s In The House…, I have continued to look at the book with my mind on the trauma experienced by both the husband and the wife. For me, with trauma theory in mind, the “deep house” that the wife creates appears to be her grievance of the trauma experienced when the bear attacked her and the belongings of the couple in the cave. “When I finally found her, sequestered in the entranceway of some lower passage of the cave I had never before seen, then as I shook her awake I saw there was no recognition in her dazed eyes, not of who I was to her or who she was to me” (Bell 14). In this, the first instance of the wife’s ability to sing herself deeper into the ground, it is following the events of some sort of trauma that the narrator, and thus the reader, have no way of knowing the details of.

There are a lot of theories that could be brought up in concurrence with this instance – such as Schwab’s “crypt” – that is too early to really get deep into. However, when the narrator is met by the foundling in the woods, and the foundling tells him what the wife was trying to accomplish in creating the “deep house:” “He said, My mother showed me the man you used to be. She made many rooms to show me, and also to show you, so that when next we were together you would be yourself again, your right self, and we would not have to be afraid” (Bell 141). In thinking of Kawin’s idea of horror as a mirror of self-confrontation and as In The House… as a horror novel, the labyrinthine “deep house” on the dirt was set up, by the wife, as a network of self-reflecting levels for the husband, in an attempt to bring him back to the man before eating the fingerling, and most likely, before heading to their new side of the lake, over the mountains.

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