House of Trauma

In Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves, the characters are all forced to deal with some form of trauma by the Navidson house. Johnny Truant, one of the narrators of the novel, one day finds himself in possession of a manuscript regarding the supposedly non-existent Navidson Record. A habitual liar plagued by the loss of his father and the descent of his mother into insanity, Johnny begins to experience a collapse in his sense of reality as he spends more and more time putting together the pieces of the house’s puzzle. Will Navidson, renowned photographer and the protagonist of the Navidson Record, moves into the house in question along with his family. As various paranormal phenomenon begin occurring within the house, eventually leading up to the appearance of the infamous five minute hallway and attached labyrinth, he is forced to deal both with his constant need to be independent and do things on his own and the guilt he feels over an award winning photograph he had taken of a starving child, the Delial whose name he speaks in his sleep. As each character spends more time interacting with or even thinking about the house, they find themselves falling further into the depths of the trauma that they carry with them. In his article “’There’s Nothing So Black as the Inferno of the Human Mind’: Infernal Phenomenal Reference and Trauma in Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves”, Conor Dawson argues that the house serves as a symbol for Hell, and that the characters each experience a modern form of katabasis as they deal with and, in some cases, literally descend into the darkness of the house. Through their interactions with the house throughout the novel, the characters are forced either to deal with and move past their trauma or be consumed by the house.

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In Sheep’s Clothes – Explanation

“In Sheep’s Clothes” was inspired by Emily Carroll’s style, specifically from “His Face All Red” and “Margot’s Room”. The idea of a narrator who can’t quite be trusted, who may know a horrible truth or simply be out of their mind. This idea is seen throughout Emily’s works, notably in “Margot’s Room” as the mother sees her husband as some sort of monster. However, it is left to the reader to decide whether or not they believe that he is truly the beast depicted or if the narrator has simply succumbed to grief and madness. The idea of a town thrown into chaos at the hands of a “beast” is inspired by “His Face All Red”. The writing style in general, most obviously the heavy use of repetition and shorter sentences, is also inspired by Emily and her work. The hope was to progressively instill a sense of dread into the reader as they see the narrator’s supposed insanity and his descent into madness as he begins his hunt of the “beast”.

In Sheep’s Clothes

There is a beast in my town.

I live in a quiet place, With peaceful people and friendly neighbors.

There’s a lake nearby with fish and ducks,

A forest filled with deer and rabbits.

The town is filled with smiling faces,

Happy people waving and cheering.

But I am not fooled.

I know the truth.

There is a beast in my town.

I see it in the corners of my eye,

In the shadows between buildings.

Always watching. Always hunting.

It stalks me as I walk around town,

Vanishing as soon as I turn to face it.

I’ve warned my neighbors, warned them of the danger.

And yet they continue to smile, continue to laugh.

But now that laughter is pointed at me…

There is a beast in my town.

But he won’t be able to hide much longer.

For now I have begun my hunt.

No more will I be the prey, No more will I feel fear.

I know it is out there, watching me from the shadows.

I know what I must do.

There is a beast in my town.

And every day there is one less smiling face.

The people no longer laugh, no longer wave and cheer.

They are afraid, afraid of the beast that they now believe in.

But they can’t fool me.

I know that the beast is one among them.

And every night I will continue my hunt.

Until I know for sure that I have killed the beast.

Until I know that it isn’t hiding behind one of those smiling faces.

There is a beast in my town.

And I will find it.