JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 297
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menace of death).' Other threats to the boys' survival, such as Jacinto, are
laid to rest. These images, however, elude whatever closure or resolution
the filmic narrative offers and instead stand as embodiments of the felt
"live-dead" quality and persistent threat of traumatic history.
Upon arrival at the orphanage, for example, Carlos immediately finds
a slug in the courtyard and secrets it away in his box of precious things
(his container of "the real")-the same slugs that are later and repeatedly
seen thriving amidst the decomposition of the pool where Santi's body
lies. They presumably will feed upon the dead Jacinto as they have upon
Santi. Their vitality depends upon death. So too the bomb, in its unexploded
state, with its "live," ticking core, promises future phallic, fraternal
violence and death. "Put your ear against her," Jaim6 says. "You'll hear
her ticking. That's her heart. She's still alive. And she knows we're here."
The bomb is also temporally linked to Santi's death: "Where's the
ghost?" "It came with the bomb," the boys remember. Having fallen on
the same night, the bomb ties this individual death in the past to those still
alive, implicating them in a future communal death that will be unleashed
by a different kind of explosion. Located below the orphanage, the pool
conjures up both the unconscious and a womb, one that gestates dead
things, dead children. As an image, it visually echoes Dr. Casares'
specimen jars holding "nobody's children," the fetuses with spinal
deformities. The spatial, temporal, and metonymical contiguity of all of
these images to living death is a way the film visually re-creates the "again
and again" of trauma survivors' later encounters with death in the
imagistic mode of flashbacks, nightmares, and hallucinations.
It is the ghost Santi, however, who embodies multiple facets of
trauma as the haunting by a living-death experience.9 Santi's ghost bears
witness to a past event that, as Caruth writes, "cries out through the
wound"; his is a past whose present significance is not fully known,
except as pain (Caruth, Unclaimed 3). Santi's own wound, a red vapor or
smoke rising from a cracked, decaying, oddly doll-like visage, threatens
to reduce him to the fading immateriality of the ghost (Figure 1). A
messenger of death ("Many of you will die"), his ghost functions as a
"dead other" within the world of the living-even as he embodies or
foretells what will be "them." Insofar as the boys internalize this warning,
their own self becomes inextricably tied to the "dead other," their identity
constitutively bound up with the dead child (8). Santi becomes the
foundation of the boys' individual and communal identities. As the basis
for an identity, itself originating in violent death, Santi's embodied
presence and message insist that history for these children-and for the
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Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition (U.S.). JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004, periodical, 2004; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28644/m1/43/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .