Women and Other Animals

The Transformation

Bonnie Jo Campbell’s “Gorilla Girl” tells the twisted coming-of-age story of a budding sociopath in southern Michigan. The narrator, whose name is not revealed in the text, takes the reader through some of the more notable life events in her adolescence, describing actions and emotions that would make any “nice” girl recoil in disgust. However, this disgust is vital to the story, as the narrator would undoubtedly feel an equal level of disdain were she to have to behave herself in a more orthodox manner. This is the story of a girl who is desperately trying to free herself of her own skin. She is bursting with raw animal energy, lashing out in violence against others -- and sometimes against herself, if no one else is available -- in an attempt to quell her frantic urges.

The text is teeming with language of a negative connotation in order to elicit a primal gut reaction in the reader. The author chose such incredibly charged words that, were one to go through the story reading only the adjectives, it would create feelings nearly as powerful as actually reading the story as a whole. The narrator describes herself as a “poisoned brew” inside of her mother in the first paragraph (15). This early description sets the tone for the...

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