Buried Deep Inside: ‘The Cement Garden’ as a Trauma Narrative
Keywords:Childhood, Parental Death, Trauma, Sibling Relations, Incest
‘The Cement Garden’ is a British novel written by Ian McEwan. The short story revolves around four siblings left alone to deal with the trauma caused by the death of their parents. The story is narrated by Jack who is portrayed as a shabby and unhygienic pervert. He begins the story with a mere mention of his father with whom he doesn’t share a happy relationship. His father passes away while attempting to create a cement garden around their house. Being burdened with managing the responsibilities all alone their mother feels tired on most days and falls sick. As a result, she keeps to her room on most days while the siblings manage the household. The family has no connection with society. Neither relatives nor neighbors ever visit them. The children don’t have close friends at school. They never invite any of their friends’ home. Only the youngest of the sibling Tom is shown to have a friend with whom he plays in the neighborhood. In this study, I focus on the significance of the role played by society and culture in easing the impact of trauma on children. My understanding of the narrative is that the absence of strong cultural identity and family connections make the children perceive trauma as a regular life event and they think it can be easily handled by them. Such misconception results in the older siblings taking up the role of absent parents and entering a relationship of incest. They suppress trauma through the false belief that such a relationship will prevent the family from breaking apart.
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