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Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series presents a society that regulates touch not through laws and mandates that can easily be broken, but through actually rewiring the brain chemistry of its citizens so that they will not desire touch with the wrong people. The protagonist, Tally, goes through two such transformations in the series: from Ugly to Pretty, and from Pretty to Special. Following one character through these transformations provides an effective case study into the effects the operations have on a person’s relationship to touch. Tally starts off Ugly and in love with an Ugly boy and ends up Special and unable to physically express her love for anyone. As Tally’s anatomy and brain chemistry are altered, her ability to relate to other people through touch deteriorates, leading her to a ritualized practice of self-injury. By the third novel, Specials, the once romantically-capable and affectionate Tally can only even remember her desire to touch when she is harming herself.
When Tally is an Ugly in the first novel, she has never had a mind-altering operation. Her entire body is natural, and the only obstacles to her expression of intimacy are socially programmed. When she first meets David, the rebellious Ugly from New Smoke, she is completely floored by his admission that he finds her beautiful. Before they share their first kiss, they debate at length about whether or not someone with an imperfect, unaltered face can be beautiful. To David, who was raised in a rebel camp that frowns on plastic surgery, Tally is tragically hard on herself. David tells her, “Whatever those brain lesions are all about, the worst damage is done before they even pick up the knife: You’re all brainwashed into believing you’re ugly” (Uglies 276).
For Tally, “ugly” is not exclusively a description of her physical appearance. To her, her natural face and body are signs of immaturity. She does not feel like her ugly body represents her true self and feels that she will be more mature and more genuine once she has the operation. She is very surprised when she kisses David and feels genuine romantic feelings for him. As she processes her confusing feelings, she recalls the relationships she used to see between her friends in the Ugly dorms. She remembers that “Uglies did kiss each other… but it always felt as if nothing counted until you were a pretty” (Uglies 280). David is Tally’s first boyfriend and so all of her experiences with kissing and touch up to that point were second-hand. Based on social programming, she never imagined that a kiss with another Ugly could feel significant or matter. In her understanding, most Ugly kisses don’t count. Remembering her kiss with David, she thinks, “this counted” (Uglies 280).
The idea that a person’s “true self” requires a makeover to reach is not exclusive to Tally’s world. In an article called “Makeover as Takeover: Scenes of Affective Domination on Makeover TV,” Brenda R. Weber discusses the messages that derive from makeover-centric reality TV shows. In many instances, the shows stress that an unattractive, frumpy physical appearance creates a disconnect between a person’s true inner beauty and the way a person looks:
[T]he reason one needs/deserves a makeover is some ‘unnatural’ separation between outside and inside, between internal subjectivity and external signification of selfhood. Friends function here as the mirror reflecting mismatched ontologies. In this regard, it is the friend’s responsibility and obligation to direct the woman whose appearance is ‘not as good as herself’ to makeup and makeovers, since these are tools offering a necessary rectification, devices that can alter outsides so that they more fully signify beautiful insides (Weber 78).
Though Tally’s circumstances are a bit more extreme than those in a reality TV show, Tally originally has no problem with the pretty operation and is tasked with “rescuing” runaway Shay so that she can be brought back to the city and essentially forced into the “necessary” operation. Tally’s search for Shay leads her to the Smoke where David lives. Like the friend in the makeover show who has to drag the “fashion victim” to the cure that is reality TV, Tally has to rescue Shay from being misled and avoiding the operation. Tally, like the people in makeover shows, believes that a person’s “true” self is a “pretty” self. Defending her interest in the pretty operation, Tally says, “Maybe just being ugly is why Uglies always fight and pick on one another, because they aren’t happy with who they are. Well, I want to be happy, and looking like a real person is the first step” (Uglies 84). Shay and Tally disagree about the operation because they disagree about what makes them human. To Tally, being pretty means being real. To Shay, keeping the face she was born with makes her more authentic. Shay tells Tally, “I’m not afraid of looking the way I do” (Uglies 84). At this point in the novel, Shay has met Ugly couples outside of their unnamed city and believes that relationships between Uglies can be real. To Tally, being pretty is the only way to live a normal life or find happiness.
It is an act of touch that changes Tally’s mind. Hearing David call her beautiful and recognizing her own budding attraction to David fascinates and overwhelms Tally to the point that she is willing to let her guard down. When she kisses David and realizes that the kiss means something, she also realizes that she loves David in his current body with his current face. When she touches him, she stops noticing his imperfections and starts perceiving him as a source of support and comfort. When they embrace before kissing, she finds “his body was warm in the predawn cold, and formed something solid and certain in Tally’s shaken reality” (Uglies 279-280). Touch makes David feel permanent in Tally’s life. Most people she has been close to have become Pretties before her and forgotten her. The permanence created through the act of touch makes Tally feel safer than she has felt before. She decides to destroy the tracking device that Special Circumstances gave her so that she, Shay, and David will not have to return to the city and become Pretty. She moves toward the fire and “clutched the pendant, squeezing the unyielding metal until her muscles ached, as if forcing into her own mind the almost unthinkable fact that she might really remain ugly for life. But somehow not ugly at all” (Uglies 281).
Kissing David changes Tally’s perception of what it means to be ugly. Prior to this moment, Tally refers to being pretty as looking “like a real person” (Uglies 84). Kissing and touching another Ugly forces Tally to change her ideas of what makes a person “real” and what makes a person exist. The idea that touch can provide a sense of identity and selfhood is not new, nor was it invented for Westerfeld’s post-apocalyptic world. In The Inner Touch: Archaeology of a Sensation, Daniel Heller-Roazen elucidates an ancient idea from Aristotle. He writes, “Whereas the Cartesian cogito ergo sum derives being from cognition, the Aristotelian formation links existence to sensation, in a chain more aptly described, for this reason, as ‘I sense, therefore I am,’ (sentio, ergo sum)” (Roazen 61). This construct definitely applies for Tally. She tries to think her way out of the socially scripted mindset, listening to David’s explanations for why the government is wrong and why she does not need surgery to be pretty. This discussion only leads to argument until they touch, and finally kiss. The moment of touching makes Tally feel real and makes her love for David feel real as well. This act of touch is also an act of liberation.
Tally’s freedom proves short-lived when Special Circumstances finds the Smoke anyway. The Specials kill David’s father and turn Shay pretty against her will. Since she is one of the only people alive who knows about the pretty brain lesions, Tally chooses to become pretty and writes a letter to herself so she will remember to resist the government and take two pills that David’s mother gives her which are said to be capable of destroying the brain lesions. Since Shay never learned about the brain lesions, Tally is the only Ugly to ever become pretty fully aware that her brain will be tampered with. Even with this realization, Tally’s ugly memories blur significantly when she becomes pretty.
Having forgotten David and her Ugly life, Tally enters a relationship with a boy named Zane. Kissing him sparks memories of her Ugly days and helps her to focus her mind. The first time Zane and Tally kiss, she remembers David for the first time since her Pretty operation. They start to kiss and “after a long moment, the two pulled a little apart, Tally’s eyes still closed. She felt his breath against her, his hand warm and soft on the back of her neck. ‘David,’ she whispered” (Pretties 58). At a glance, this seems to be a typical case of saying the wrong name during an intimate encounter. Tally sees it this way and is initially embarrassed about it. Rather than responding with jealousy or suspicion, Zane becomes very excited that Tally is remembering her life before she became Pretty. The two of them realize that the excitement that comes from kissing helps to remind them of their pre-Pretty existences. Once this discovery is made, their intimacy degrades a bit. Rather than kissing or touching to feel close to one another as a romantic couple, they start kissing to jog their memories. The first kiss Tally shares with Zane literally brings flashbacks of her Ugly life. Her memories “all seemed a million years ago, but she could see herself — her Ugly self — kissing David” (Uglies 60).
Kissing becomes a powerful tool for Tally, literally able to restore memories that were blurred through programming. It should be noted, however, that unlike Tally’s kiss with David, which by itself changed Tally’s mind about society, Tally’s kisses with Zane are not “cures” by themselves. Her first kiss with Zane is more about recalling David than about sharing touch with Zane. Additionally, remembering that she used to love an Ugly boy does not liberate Tally, but instead makes her remarkably uncomfortable. She is torn between the feelings she remembers for him and the confusion over why he is no longer with her. Since Tally has forgotten why David allowed her to separate from him and become a Pretty, Tally starts using kisses not only to remember her Ugly existence, but also to hold onto Zane and establish his presence as permanent.
Kisses give her reassurance that Zane is better for her than David, and that she is making the right decision in forgetting David. When she lived in the Smoke, she was told that she should take both of the experimental pills David’s family gave her to erase her brain lesions and then David would come back for her. When she decides that David isn’t coming back, she takes one of the pills and gives the other to Zane. To reassure herself that she made the right decision, Tally “grasped the back of [Zane’s] neck and kissed him” (Pretties 97). She reminds herself that “David hadn’t come to rescue her” and then concludes that David is “either dead or he must not care what happened to her. He was ugly, and Zane was beautiful and bubbly, and he was here” (Pretties 97). In this instance, touching Zane is not about experiencing touch or sharing intimacy, but about establishing Zane’s permanence. Tally’s life with David was chaotically taken away from her, and through grasping Zane and holding him close, she reminds herself that he is still here and will not have to leave her.
The pills slowly start to affect Zane and Tally, but nearly every pretty who is aware of the brain lesions tries desperately to erase them. Before the pills come into the picture, Zane and Tally realize that touch is not enough to completely fight their mental programming. During romantic evenings together, they restore their mental clarity through kisses and touch and attempt to supplement those effects with self-abuse. Zane encourages Tally to take pills known as “calorie purgers,” which are usually meant to help people lose weight. Tally initially thinks that Zane is concerned with her size but soon learns that he has a different motivation. He tells her, “Hunger focuses your mind. Any kind of excitement works, actually… Like kissing someone new. That works really well” (Pretties 61). Strikingly, Zane tells his girlfriend that starving her body will help her to achieve the same ends as kissing. This moment shows that both of them have lost the ability to allow touch to stand on its own. It becomes a means to an end, similar to any adrenaline-increasing behavior.
Tally spends most of the second book starving and begins to noticeably lose weight. The constant hunger gives her focus and kisses become a way to zero in on a task she and Zane want to complete together. On one occasion, Zane asks Tally how to climb down into an elevator shaft and, “Instead of answering, Tally kissed him again. She couldn’t remember exactly how, but knew that if she just stayed bubbly, it would come back to her” (Pretties 73). The exhilaration of the kiss and the climb itself allows Tally to remember what she is doing. The intention behind this kiss, to spark her memory and maintain mental focus, is the exact same motivation behind her potentially dangerous weight-loss activity. When she takes the calorie purgers, “She felt as if a thin film of plastic between her and the rest of the world was being peeled away” (Pretties 62).
As a Pretty, Tally does not fully engage with touch the way she does as an Ugly. Despite this, she is still capable of having a romantic relationship and sharing touch without becoming ill. In fact, touch is a sense that Tally can trust. When she first sees David as a Pretty, she is surprised at how ugly he seems. Looking at his face feels strange because, through Pretty eyes, he doesn’t look as good as he looked to Ugly Tally. It is touch that reminds her of her feelings for David. Holding onto him during a hover board ride, “The feel of David’s body… was so familiar — even the smell of him set her memories spinning… She wanted to take back all the stupid, pretty-minded thoughts she’d had at her first glimpse of his face” (Pretties 325).
Touch restores Tally’s emotional memory of David. As a Pretty, the information Tally receives through touch is more honest than the information she receives through the sense of sight. Though Tally’s society is fictional and no research has been done about its happenings, writers like Étienne Bonnot de Condillac have written about how touch compares to other senses. In Traite des Sensations, Condillac says that, “touch is the sense which instructs all the others” (236). When Pretty Tally touches David, she stops seeing him as unattractive. The familiarity of touch, as Condillac says, informs her of how she really feels about him and in fact transforms the way her other senses perceive him. Condillac believes that, as Tally finds, senses besides touch can be deceptive. When describing a child who is first learning to use and trust his senses, he writes, “We have a bias which makes us presume that when an object pleases us in some respects it is good in all. So too the lad had appeared surprised that the persons he loved best were not the most beautiful” (Condillac 176). Throughout the Uglies series, Tally struggles with her feelings for David no matter how her mind is altered and no matter how unattractive he appears to her. He is by far not the most beautiful person she has ever met, yet he is constantly in her thoughts. Like the child Condillac describes, Pretty Tally is surprised that she still feels such profound feelings for David when she holds him. Before they touch in Pretties, Tally’s sense of sight tells her that David is very different from her, to the point of being unacceptable. She initially bases her opinions on the asymmetry of David’s face and the imperfections of his body. It is touch that makes David familiar to her again, and narrows the gap between David as an Ugly and Tally as a pretty.
In Pretties, Tally learns to rediscover truth through touch. The next operation she undergoes challenges her ability to share physical affection at all, much less derive a sense of honesty from it. Her forced transformation from a Pretty into a Special is in some ways more compromising than her transformation from an Ugly into a Pretty. Beyond the brain lesions, the difference between Uglies and Pretties is largely appearance. Specials are altered a step further. Their minds are hard-wired to look for differences between themselves and others. Specials are programmed to believe that they are perfect. When Tally tries to get close to Zane, she becomes hyperaware of his imperfections and can barely remember why she was attracted to him in the first place.
Like her first encounter with David as a Pretty, Tally’s first encounter with Zane as a Special is very uncomfortable. He does not look beautiful to her anymore. To be fair, Zane is in terrible physical condition from taking an experimental pill that was supposed to remove his brain lesions. As a Special, Tally is programmed to look for imperfections in other people, and Zane has more of them than an ordinary Pretty would. Both Zane and Tally hope that a kiss can force Tally out of her Special-mind and help her to rediscover her love for Zane. Tally keeps fighting to remember the attraction she once felt to Zane.
When he finds her, he hopes that he can kiss her and help her to remember what she used to feel. Zane remembers the story of how David helped Tally to fight her insecurities as an ugly, and how their kiss completely altered her worldview. Zane mistakenly believes that Tally is refusing love from Pretties or Uglies because they do not look attractive to her. In reality, the problem is touch. Even though Tally is disturbed by Zane’s appearance, she tries to fight her mental programming and kiss him anyway:
She slid closer, hands pushing inside his clothes. She wanted to be out of the sneak suit, no longer alone, no longer invisible. Arms around him, she squeezed tight, hearing his breath catch as her lethal hands gripped harder. Her senses brought her everything about him: his heart pulsing softly in his throat, the taste of his mouth, the unwashed scent of him cut by the salt spray. But then his fingers brushed her cheek, and Tally felt their trembling. No, she said silently. The tremors were soft, almost nothing, as faint as the echoes of rain falling a kilometer away. But they were everywhere, on the skin of his face, in the muscles of his arms around her, in his lips against hers — his whole body shivering like a littlie’s in the cold. And suddenly Tally could see inside him: his damaged nervous system, the corrupted connections between body and brain. She tried to blot the image from her mind, but it only grew clearer. She was designed to spot weaknesses, after all, to take advantage of the frailties and flaws of randoms. Not to ignore them (Specials 194).
Tally’s desire to leave her clothing and be fully honest with Zane indicates that she has not fully lost her desire for touch. She describes feeling alone, even invisible, and wanting Zane to bring her out of her isolation. She is comfortable feeling his heartbeat and sensing his closeness until she brushes his cheek and remembers how different he (as an ailing Pretty) is from her and from other Specials. Once she notices the trembling in his cheek, the knowledge of it overwhelms her and she cannot focus on anything else.
Beyond appearance, it is touch that creates the biggest barrier between Specials and the rest of the world. Tally cannot enjoy touch with non-Specials, but also feels uncomfortable touching Specials, including members of the group called Cutters that she belongs to. When Fausto, a Special boy Tally knew when both of them were Pretties, puts his arms around Tally, “She pulled away. Cutters touched one another all the time, but she wasn’t used to that part of being a Special. It made her feel even stranger that Zane hadn’t joined them yet” (Specials 11). Here, Tally demonstrates that she still attaches significance to whom she touches and why she touches them. It also shows that she wants the intimacy and closeness touch with Zane used to bring, and not merely the physical sensation of touch. There is a disconnect, however, between her desire for a meaningful relationship and the way her brain is wired. Touching Fausto does not appeal to her, yet he is one of the only people alive whose touch she can tolerate. Desperate to remember her love for Zane and to stay focused enough to help him become special with her, Tally turns to cutting.
Tally’s reasons for cutting are sometimes misunderstood in the novel. When Dr. Cable, the woman responsible for creating the Specials, sees Tally’s cuts, she assumes that they come from a form of masochism. She asks, “Does it really feel so wonderful, cutting yourself? I must look into that, next time I make Specials so young” (Specials 335). In the article, “Self and Sacrifice: A Phenomenonological Psychology of Sacred Pain,” Ariel Glucklich explains the limitations of understanding self-injury purely as a masochistic, pain-driven experience. She says, “[Self-injurers] cannot be reduced to perversion for enjoying something hurtful that they bring upon their bodies. To understand the nature of self-inflicted injury… and its positive function, we must look at the nature of the person as ego and organism, and at pain as a special signal within this complex organism” (Glucklich 491).
Before looking into Tally’s personal reasons for cutting, it is important to place her in the context of her society. In Specials, Cutters do not all have the same reasons for cutting, but it is easy for them to look like they do. Tally’s entire group of Specials has named itself the Cutters based on their shared habit of self-injury in pursuit of mental clarity. All of the Cutters have numerous cuts on the arms, and these cuts function both as fashion statements and as mental focusing tools. The pain of tearing one’s flesh serves to create mental clarity, but the Cutters as a group seem to value the aesthetics and the group identity involved with cutting more than its tactile value. The Cutters will often sit in a circle and pass blades around before important missions so that they can proceed with clear focus. One such exchange occurs between Shay and Tally when they make the decision to rescue Zane from New Pretty Town and convince Dr. Cable to make him Special. Shay hands Tally a blade to cut herself with, as usual, but becomes shocked when Tally breaks a Cutter tradition. Instead of cutting on her arms like most Cutters do, Tally takes the knife by the blade and squeezes her hand around it. Shay says, “Hang on, not your hand” (Specials 95). Tally ignores Shay and continues what she is doing. After Tally has cut herself, Shay reminds her that “it’s traditional to use the arms” (96). Tally never explains why she cut her hand and Shay, while confused, drops the subject.
In some contexts, Shay’s concern might seem like splitting hairs. Cutting on one’s hands is not inherently more dangerous than cutting on one’s arms. Shay does not express concern that Tally is cutting herself, but that Tally is breaking from tradition. The way she self-injures is different from the way the other Specials cut, thus peeling away the excuse of cutting being a group activity for her.
Tally cutting her hand rather than her arms represents that she is setting her self-injury apart from the self-injury her social group engages in. She is making the statement that she has feelings for a Pretty and therefore maintains a part of her old identity from before she joined the Cutters. In an article called “The Voice on the Skin: Self-Mutilation and Merleau-Ponty’s Theory of Language,” Janice McLane argues that creating boundaries between oneself and the rest of the world is often a motivation for self-injurious behavior. According to McLane, “self-mutilation helps the self-injurer restore firm boundaries between self and other” (114). In Tally’s case, she is forming a boundary between herself and the only group of people she can completely interact with. She is reminding herself that she does not want the Cutters to be her only identity and that he desire to reconnect with Zane is also a crucial part of who she is. Cutting her hand is an assertive act for Tally, who is going against her boss, Shay’s, wishes and expectations. McLane’s article explains how autonomy and self-control can contribute to the appeal cutting has. She writes, “although self-mutilation causes harm, that harm is not caused by others. It is initiated, defined, and ended by the mutilator herself, to the pointed exclusion of anyone else” (McLane 114).
The scars on Tally’s hand indicate feelings that only she has, that set her apart from the other Cutters. Tally’s control over her cutting is very important to her. Since skin can easily be replaced in Tally’s world, she could easily get an operation to erase all of her cutting scars. She is also capable of completely erasing the pain of cutting with medical spray whenever she wants to. This adds extra layers of agency to Tally’s cutting behavior that 21st-century cutters do not have. Tally encounters a man named Andrew during Specials who has never lived in a city or heard of the operation to become Pretty. When he asks about her scars, she says, “[Specials] only have scars if we want to, so they always mean something. These mean that I love Zane” (160).
Through this explanation, Tally asserts that cutting has started to lose its meaning as a form of violent touch. Tally’s cutting, though physically painful, is much more visual than tactile. The pain she feels from cutting is often secondary to the visual and symbolic significance of the act. As Glucklich says, “Any theory of self-mutilation that takes pain as a monolithic sensation, directly linked to tissue damage, is bound to fail. It fails first and foremost by distorting the fact that pain is a mental event, and an extremely rich one. The range of mental factors that influences the perception of pain is impressive” (Glucklich 490).
For Tally, the biggest mental factor is her desire to remain connected to her feelings. The cuts themselves remind her that, deep down, she desires to touch Zane and that she has plans to “rescue” him from being Pretty so that he can be Special and become her boyfriend again. Cutting is not a replacement for touch, but a reminder that touch is important to her regardless of how Zane’s trembling skin feels to her Special body. For Tally, self-injury creates a sense of self-empowerment. Glucklich writes, “The cutting of the skin and the spilling of the blood are performed intentionally for the strengthening of a higher telos or purpose. The act of self-directed violence asserts the dominion of their ego over lesser bodily systems” (Glucklich 501). In Tally’s case, her higher purpose is staying in love with Zane and not losing him the way she lost David when she became Pretty.
In Zane’s opinion, Tally’s cutting is not a sign that she has control over her life but instead is a sign that she is losing control. He asks her, “What is it that you’re not feeling that you have to do that?” (Specials 142). By asking what feeling she is lacking, Zane identifies lack of touch and Tally’s lack of emotional connection with others as the culprits responsible for her self-injury. To him, the behavior is not a means of empowerment, but instead a coping mechanism to help her deal with her inability to touch. Eventually, Tally gives up cutting in order to please Zane, but she still derives benefit from looking at her scars and remembering why she created them. Their visual presence reminds her of who she is and of her true desires, and can be enough without her continuing to self-injure. Tally does not make any effort to hide her cuts from other people. This sets Tally apart from most modern self-injurers, at least according to McLane. She writes, “Contrary to many medical and lay opinions, self-mutilators seldom seek to exhibit their wounds or behavior in public, or to manipulate others through self-wounding” (McLane 115).
The self-injurers McLane is studying are generally sexual trauma survivors who may need to hide or cover up their trauma to avoid retaliation from abusers. Cutting in Tally’s world functions very differently from the most common case studies of cutting in the 21st century. Tally does not self-harm to cover up a secret. She wears her scars openly and therefore she has little to lose by self-harming to manipulate others and to get her own way. She does this in a city called Diego where she is arrested and hospitalized for having a Special body. In Diego, there are no Specials. The doctors in Diego see that Tally’s city constructed her as a weapon and feel that she is unsafe to keep around. A medical staff member tells Tally that she will not be allowed to leave until she gets a new operation to turn her into a regular Pretty. It is at this moment that Tally chooses to become manipulative with her self-injury. When her Special body is threatened, the scars are no longer enough to keep Tally focused on Zane. Tally remembers, “For those few moments kissing Zane, she’d imagined that she wanted to be normal” and quickly decides, “now that someone was threatening to grind her down to averageness, she couldn’t stand the thought. She wanted to be able to look at Zane without disgust, to touch him, to kiss him. But not if it meant being changed against her will again” (Specials 256-257).
As mentioned earlier, cutting gives Tally a means of remembering her feelings and having control in a world where her body and mind can be completely altered without her consent. Changing back from Special to Pretty could mean the erasure of Tally’s progress toward having feelings again. Determined to be let out, Tally “pulled her fist back and gave it the hardest blow she could. Pain shot through her again… If she started hurting herself, someone would have to open the door” (Specials 257). In this instance, Tally is using violent, aggressively tactile behavior to alarm the hospital staff into giving her freedom. This act of self-injury is different from her experiencing cutting with other Cutters. She does not have medical spray at her disposal to put an end to her pain. Whatever harm she causes her body, she will have to live with. Her self-injury is not entirely in her control, and has become a means of expressing powerlessness. A similar idea comes up in McLane’s writing about sexual abuse survivors who have lost control for different reasons. She writes, “The need to speak builds and moves outward, but meets with a barrier of silence. In meeting this boundary, the abuse survivor is forced back upon herself; into a box, as it were, inside of which she must play out and voice the drama of her experience” (110).
Through battering the walls, Tally communicates how dangerous she has been forced to become and how angry she is at being changed against her will. The use of the word “drama” is very fitting in describing Tally’s behavior, which is meant to prove a serious point. As she pounds the walls, she “felt her knuckles threatening to shatter against the iron hardness behind the padding. A gasp of pain slipped through her lips, and spatters of blood marked the padding, but Tally couldn’t hold back” (Specials 257). She feels that the guards “knew how strong she was, and this had to look real” (Specials 257). This description of Tally’s self-injury is very similar to McLane’s description of anger-induced self-injury. When a survivor harms herself, “Her rage and anguish move outward, strike at the boundaries enclosing her, and having no other place to go,
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