Actually, this Delicious Descriptions is not a commentary on smacking as the post title might suggest, but it is about a smacking situation – in Carrie Tiffany’s Mateship with birds. It occurs when five-year-old Michael has stolen a penny from his mother and so she smacks him:
Betty doesn’t have the heart to pull his pants down so she smacks him with the wooden spoon through his shorts and shirt-tails and underpants so she isn’t really hitting him at all, just whacking at the layers of clothing and the air trapped between them. He’s never been smacked before. As soon as she releases him he turns on her. He looks about the kitchen in fury. ‘How dare you? You pan, you rug, you – you – you … spoon.’
She gasps. She covers her face with her hands. He’s right. She isn’t a bitch or a slut; she is a pan, a rug, a spoon. She is a woman without a man – a utensil inside a house.
See what I mean about her writing? It packs so much. There’s social history here about parent-child relationships and child discipline, and about women’s lives. And, there’s psychology, particularly regarding sense of self – Michael’s positively defiant one and Betty’s self-deprecatingly negative one. It has an interesting rhythm, with the introductory long sentence describing the action followed by a series of short sentences for the emotional responses. It’s funny, too, but has such a sting. It puts a very specific spin, doesn’t it, on that old adage that “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you”!