Sociology: Black and Blue
Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen expresses the traumatic physical and emotional encounters of a nineteen year old woman; by the name of Fran who helplessly fell in love with Bobby Benedetti subsequently becoming his wife. Domestic violence entered the relationship very early intensifying after marriage and birth of a handsome son. The situation became catastrophic. Interestingly, opens the novel with Fran at a Philadelphia train station making her way out of New York into Florida.
After years of battering inclusive of verbal and physical abuse Fran was forced to make the hard decision of running away from Bobby with her 10 year old son, Robert, seeking refuge in another state. It became a stark reality that such treatment from this policeman husband was destroying both she and her son emotionally, creating severe psychologically impacts.
In confronting her dilemma this emergency room nurse would soliloquize about herself being a professional person.
Residing in a comfortable Italian- American Brooklyn neighborhood she often contemplated on the fact that a person with such intelligence could continue allowing herself to be battered by this New York policeman, without exposing the details to family members neither the public. She was also religious; a Catholic, and perhaps knew better.
Eventually, she takes the courage to seek advice from Patty Bancroft, founder of a battered woman consultancy; ‘Witness Protection Program.’ There, she registers using false identity to relocate to Florida where she believed her misery would have been over. Now her name is Beth Crenshaw residing in a somewhat uncomfortable duplex in Sunshine Florida.
Bancroft was the motivating force in helping her through this liberation process by providing train, bus and car rides to physically remove her from the geographic location of her experience. As the drama unfolds the question of whether she was emotionally relocated in consciousness to create better conditions into her life, forms the captivating sequel to the story.
Now in Florida under new identify brings some measure of security to Fran, but Robert longed for the loving relationship shared between himself and his policeman father who never physically abused him. However, he was quite aware of the brutality of his father on his mother experiencing broken bones and unconsciousness, periodically.
Bobby, taking advantage of his policing career was able to track down the whereabouts of son and mother respectively, through a telephone conversation with Robert. An almost fatal beating of Fran ensued upon the encounter and Robert was kidnapped. In essence the eventualities appeared to work out in the best interest of all characters involved.
Fran was able to recover from Bobby’s final beating and found true love starting a new family. Robert was reunited with his father. Even though Fran kept her heart open to reuniting with her son, the author did not allow her readers to embrace this experience in the novel neither did Fran, who retained the same telephone number in anticipation of a call from her son one day. The action closes with suspense, but on a happy note. Fran was eventually safe with none of Bobby’s attachments to plague her life any further.
The most intriguing episode for me to read through and stay calm was when Bobby found them in Florida and the brutal attacks on Fran began. It was if I were the one who was being brutalized, physically. Every blow struck on her body, I felt physically and emotionally. It was awful, yet awesome that she survived this tragedy.
When related to a movie, for me, apart from the scene being brutal, I could have seen this frail white woman being overtaken by a sturdy bully. It was as if I could get in there and strike my portion of blows to stop this assault on this innocent soul. For days it stuck with me and whenever the scene replays in my mind I feel both the emotional and physical pain Fran did during the experience.
My fear of her being murdered still lingers as the author highlights this gruesome scene in visible words for the reader to feel the events of the action. I am still appalled at how Fran did survive, but perhaps, this is the way the author wanted to portray the falling action. There was more for the heroine to complete before the novel ended.
Actually, in most cases of intimate partner violence the woman dies before receiving any help. As the scene remains in my mind there is still some solace that she escaped alive, but bitterness that she lost her son in the process. For me, I would have liked to see them together and Robert working through the obvious absence of his father. They have not been reunited in the story; again leaving me sad.
Certainly, most characters depicted in the novel Black and Blue have their important sociological significance in the Family violence cycle. However, the one for whom most compassion is extended, is Fran. As such, she is my selection for casting some theoretical perspectives in interpreting her dilemma.
Family Violence across Life Span according to Olga Barnett (2004) and others consists of a sequel of events leading up to either the desire to engage in family violence or conformity to it, psychologically, to one’s own detriment (Burnet et.al, 2004, p. 232). In the case of Fran she was the one conforming to family violence without realizing why she was doing it.
Theoretically, she in herself contributed to both the existence and persistence. In spite of emerging from a family structure which did not show physical violence she was violated emotionally by favoritism among family members; her mother showing preference towards other siblings.
Therefore, when she met Bobby, he signified acceptance and even though he began beating at her on the onset, testing her ability to withstand his ultimate abuse, unconsciously she did not interpret it as physical abuse, but his way of expressing love. Again, despite her intelligence she felt subdued believing that there is no one else out side of her family to assist with this tragedy, which is secretly destroying her self esteem within and outside the home.
Precisely, her conformity could be theorized as emerging from child psychological maltreatment (Barnet et. al, 2004, p. 232). Fran entered a relationship with a low self-concept projected as low self-esteem. She attracted in her life an opportunity to build it to subject to it further.
The initial response was to conform because she did not have the courage to confront and eliminate it from her experience. Sadly, it took some 18 years of torture to respond appropriately to this intimate partner violence. An important highlight of low self esteem coupled with a poor self concept is demonstrated when she went to her sister’s house and for the first time allow a family member into the secret violence within her family. She did not go to her parents.
Barnett, Olga. Miller-Perrin, Cindy. Perrin, Robin. Family violence across the lifespan. 2nd.
Edition. New York: Sage. 2004. Print.
Quindlen, Anna. Black and blue. New York: Random house. 1998. Print