Eva's crazy way of keeping silent for protection
While reading Eva’s Man, I grew more and more frustrated when her writing became more complex. I became frustrated because I lost access to a transparent storyline; as I got more confused, I got to a point where I realized that I did not have to understand what was going on. I had an epiphany that Eva’s Man seemed to be the quintessence of Doris Sommer’s piece Advertencia/Warning. Doris Sommer claims that readers “feel entitled to know everything as they approach a text … with the conspiratorial intimacy of a potential partner” in this case I became the reader who was trying to know and understand everything that was going on. She then proceeds to write, “the slap of refused intimacy from uncooperative books can slow readers down, detain them at the boundary between contact and conquest”. At first I found myself slowing down and re-reading the passage, until I realized that no matter how many times I read it, the text was meant to make me confused and to get the sense of confusion and craziness.
One of the reasons why I think readers might get frustrated with this text is because of the lack of space to empathize with Eva since the reader will be so focused on trying to make the stories match up. By writing in such a confusing manner, Eva is trying to get her point across and give the reader a sense of her message. By making it so complex she is choosing to be silent to a certain extent in her story and to keep a distance between her and the reader; she is trying to protect herself. Eva choses what story to tell because to her it seems like these are the only aspect of her life that she has complete control over. As sdane mentioned in her haiku, “Eva is asked to give a part of her self to others, usually sexually, and she often has no way of stopping them. The people who ask Eva to speak and tell her story recall these past traumas … seem to trigger pain in Eva, which leads to her vulnerability and silence. At the same time, … being silent becomes a way for Eva to gain control by being able to make the decision not to share. Eva decided to keep silent and keep her stories private when she refuses to explain herself to the psychiatrist, the detective, her cellmate and overall to the reader.
I think in some ways Eva is making a conscious decision when she refused to share too much because she understands that the information can be used against her, or that they will not believe her. On page 10 Eva says, “I tell my psychiatrist what I remember. He tells me I do not know how to separate the imagined memories from the real ones”. This goes to show how already the psychiatrist has some distrust of Eva’s stories. Wendy Brown explains the risk in sharing stories in her piece Freedom Silences when she writes, “breaking silences can metamorphose into new techniques of domination, how our truth becomes our ruler rather than our emancipation, how our confessions become the norms by which we are regulated.” (Brown 91). Throughout the book, not only did Eva say that she did not like talking about herself (73), but people who she would talk to would comment on the fact that she would not speak about herself like on page 67, “Eva, why won’t you talk about yourself?” Even the psychiatrist made the comment “they told me you wouldn’t talk. They said I wouldn’t get one word” (77).
I think the way this is written is to give the reader a sense of the thoughts that were going through Eva’s mind. Throughout the book Eva keeps recalling/making connections with the people who kept asking her how she felt and to share her story. On page 77, it is pretty clear that Eva goes back and forth recalling times when people asked her the same questions, “How did it feel? Elvira asked/How did it feel? The psychiatrist asked/How did it feel Elvira asked.” Eva tries her best to make it clear that she does not want to speak about herself, “I don’t want to tell me story … why don’t you just go away”. Even when Eva explicitly says she does not want to speak, people still try to force her to do so. “Talk to me … you’re going to have to open up sometime, woman to somebody” (77) says the psychiatrist to Eva. I think that when Eva recalls people constantly trying to force her to speak she finds herself trying to protect herself more and more. By keeping silent and choosing to now share more than she wants to, Eva is making a conscious decision to not let anyone in. Because in the past Eva was not really able to prohibit men from invading her physically, mentally and emotionally, Eva is now in control of when to let people in and when to keep them distanced.