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Discussion Forum
Reply two of my classmates response about ”A Strangled Cry of Fear (novel) by B.A. Chepaitis”

1. Discussion
A Strangled Cry of Fear definitely strikes a noticeably different tone than the rest of the literature we’ve read in this course. The clearest example of this can be found simply in the way the works treat their respective ghosts. Unlike the rest of the works, which treat ghosts either as a way to connect to one’s cultural heritage (Tracks), or inspire fear of those given the moniker (The Woman Warrior), these ghosts are ghosts in the most literal sense, actual manifestations that are trapped on Planetoid One.
Where it is similar to Tracks, is in the way the mutoids are treated. The instinctual fear, which naturally evolves into hatred and persecution, is reminiscent of the way the rest of the Native Americans treated the Pillager family when they discovered their supernatural gifts. Furthermore, unlike the other novels where ghosts were utilized as a method to maintain a link to one’s cultural heritage, ghosts in Tracks and A Strangled Cry of Fear are utilized on a much more personal level. This is accomplished differently- in Tracks the Pillager’s must deal with their neighbors who find them loathsome, and their gifts terrifying. By contrast, Jaguar is plagued by the supernatural herself in a much more direct and traditional sense.
Another key difference between Strangled Cry of Fear and other works we’ve read is the setting. By being set in a sci-fi future, the surroundings of Dr. Chepaitis’ novel differs dramatically from other works, most of which were set in, or at least heavily concerned with, the past and maintaining a cultural link to it. This difference allows for different rationales behind the origin of the ghosts in question. In works like The Yellow Wallpaper where the ghost is a demon of a character’s own mind, or in other works where ghosts are spiritual in nature, the ghosts in a strangled cry of fear are manufactured by the “Cleaner”, essentially omitting completely the supernatural element. The setting also allows for the female characters to play different roles. The woman in The Yellow Wallpaper was a prisoner in her own home- subject to torture both physical and psychological by the men in her life simply because she was deemed to be a member of the inferior sex. By contrast Jaguar’s problems are very much in her own hands. She is not constrained- at least not so literally- and is treated with respect for her intellect, a concept that would presumably be considered ridiculous to the men in The Yellow Wallpaper and stories of it’s ilk.


Tracks, The Woman Warrior and A Strangled Cry of Fear all have in common that they deal with ghosts/haunting. However they differ in the way that the author uses the ghosts to portray a deeper meaning, some coming from a historical perspective and others a more personal point of view.

The book that bears a most striking contrast to the others that we have read is A Strangled Cry of Fear. This is due to the totally different setting and science fiction spin on the popular ghost story. On Prison Planetoid Three, Jaguar establishes an empathic link with the darkest criminal minds – she makes those that have committed wrong doing face the fears that drive them to their most desperate acts. Jaguar is sent back to Planetoid One, her first Planetoid assignment, to investigate a prisoner convicted of killing Supervisor Diane Lasher, a woman that was her friend at one point. And she demonstrates her commitment to the investigation in the beginning of the story (page 19). But As she walks the corridors of her own past, Jaguar is haunted by ghosts who might or might not be real, and plagued by attempts to kill her before she gets to the truth.
TRACKS, differs from A Strangled Cry of Fear but is similar to The Woman Warrior because they share a common theme of the importance of cultural identity. Nanapush tries to adapt and preserve the Indian identity while Pauline struggles to form a new one, separate and ‘other’ to the one she was born into. Both narratives also share a sense of hopelessness, a sense of man succumbing to forces beyond his control. In Nanapush’s tale, it is the surrender of Native American land and culture to the encroaching white man while Pauline’s narrative is one of surrendering to religious fanaticism. In the Woman Warrior the author through the mothers interaction with her daughter, declares her need for commitment to ones ethnicity and shows struggle to maintain cultural values. They both take place in the past and give their readers not only a look into their history but allow the readers to take away their important message through the usage of ghosts.