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Dark Like Blood

Graceful or Grotesque? Constructions of Femininity

"And you won't understand the wonder and glory of my adventure
unless you listen to the bad part. It wasn't
very bad, you know" (108).
C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces (1956)


Points of Reflection

The Bible: Proverbs 31:10-31

1. do the author's behavioral recommendations resonate only with the experience of women, or do they generalize to men as well?

2. does the ideal woman sketched here overlap with the ideal woman constructed by western culture in the twenty-first century?

3. does the wife of noble character demonstrate her efficacy and prowess in only the domestic sphere?

4. does such a woman prove kind only to blood relations?

5. does this woman handle money?

6. what aspects of femininity typically celebrated by western culture are here undercut?

7. should this woman's accomplishments be recognized publically, or go unnoticed?


Salvador Dalí's Paranonia (1935-36)

1. of what is the female head composed? Look very closely.

2. why might Dalí have given this female's bust such a whitish, death-like pallor?

3. does the color scheme of the stage-like midground and distant background matter?

4. why might Dalí have placed the bust on a pedestal?

5. Dalí defined the "paranoiac-critical method" as a "spontaneous method of irrational knowledge based on the critical and systematic objectivity of the associations and interpretations of delirious phenomena." He was, remember, enamored of the way paranoia reorganized perception around a single, obsessive idea, providing a new way of looking at reality. What “paranoiac” ideas might this particular painting convey?


C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces (1956), chps 10-21

1. what category of love best defines the type of affection shown Psyche by Orual in today’s reading?

2. does Orual’s concern for Psyche's wellbeing outweigh her concern for everything else?

3. can you locate any Christological elements in Psyche’s experience? Does she appear at any point to symbolize Christ, his disciples, or the Church?

4. is Psyche suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder? Do her words, actions, and perceptions mark her as insane?

5. Orual both calls herself honest and admits to an imperfect memory (117). How reliable is Orual’s narrative, and does her tale betray any moments of self-deception?

6. how consistently do the human eyes reveal truth to Orual and Psyche?

7. how important are eyes in perceiving the Divine?

8. does the phrase “holy darkness” (124) sound like an oxymoron or a truism?

9. in this novel, which proves to be the most powerful yet indirect, non-empirical mode of revealing spiritual truth: nature, dreams, or waking visions?

10. does the Fox’s rational approach to life gain or lose credence in today’s reading?



Paranonia (1935-36)
oil on canvas

Salvador Dalí



Dr. Paul Marchbanks
pmarchba@calpoly.edu