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Additional info for A Poetics of Forgiveness: Cultural Responses to Loss and Wrongdoing

Sample text

In this sense, she trumps both Bill and Orestes, rising to the status of a female Achilles, for whom pure anger equals pure revenge. But certain accommodations need to be made when a woman wears the pants role, for example, in order to support her reproductive capacity. A man can sow the seed, but he cannot actually give birth. Kill Bill self-consciously invokes fertility to thematize the conception of its own action heroes and of movies themselves. Bill stands for the decay and putrification of the male hero, but the Bride is fecund.

She wisely opts for the latter. Here, Tarantino inserts a lengthy f lashback to show the Bride’s training with the legendary Chinese Kung Fu master, Pai Mei, who was once Bill’s teacher. At first, the old master and the unschooled American girl clash with each other, but eventually the Bride acquiesces and begins to work in earnest. The turning point is when she agrees to try to break a block of wood with her hand. ” This proves to be a good lesson. The scene cuts to inside the dark coffin, six feet under, where the Bride calmly goes about getting herself out of trouble.

Similarly, Orestes demonstrates a range of emotional responses, including love, fear, remorse and, finally, gratitude for his release from the consequences of matricide. Even the Bride cannot be described as a thoroughly evil person; during the scenes with her mentors, Bill, Hanzo¯ Hattori and Pai Mei, she exhibits respect and discipline. And once she has crossed every name off her list, she shows both relief that it is over and gratitude for her peaceful life with her young daughter. It could be argued that, for the duration of her revenge mission, she needs to follow Hanzo ¯ ’s principles of suppressing all human emotion and that when it is over she is free to display her passions once again.

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