Analysis of Karen Russell’s St. Lucy’s Home for girls Raised by Wolves
St. Lucy’s Home for girls Raised by Wolves, Karen Russell’s collection of fantastical short stories take all that is mundane and fractures it into a fantastical world with humor, dramatic tone, or cultural/religious undertones. Russell whirls a reader into her stories with her capability to encase a reader in the story with her repetition of one’s senses. Constantly brining in the senses of a reader brought in the smells of a surrounding from the protagonist or in this case the narrator. In St. Lucy’s Home for girls Raised by Wolves, our narrator, Claudette, speaks from the mind of a half human half wolf in transition. Of the pack’s reaction to the nuns, how Sister Josephine “tasted like sweat and freckles” (226) after Claudette bit her ankle, which she “smelled easy to kill” (226); how the mousy social worker was “nervous smelling” (226), eventually Claudette herself “smelled like a purebred girl, easy to kill” (242). When the sisters were reunited with the brothers they no longer smelt as of family they knew but of “pomade and cold, sterile sweat” (241). Russell creates such realistic imagery in a non-realistic world. Not just with scents but with a sense of touch sensory. How the girls went “knuckling along” (224) the floors when they first arrived; even when speaking, their ineptitude to force their tongues to “curl around our false new names” (229) creates such realistic imagery you sense your tongue running across your own teeth. Russell demonstrates the same encompassing sensory style in other short stories for instance Z.Z.’s Sleep-Away Camp for Disordered Dreamers, within the second paragraph the protagonist in describing the scent of a girl, Emma, how Emma “smells like dinner” (49), then pinpointing it so precisely one smells the scent of this girl how she smells not just of any dinner but of “barbecue sauce, the buttery whiff of potato foil” (49) an entire meal that you...
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