JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 298
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nation they emblematize-comprises catastrophic events that will never
cease to take place. "The past lives on"-and on and on, a literal return
of the war to the community, as if the present and the living were
possessed by some kind of deadly fatefulness from the past, manifested
as the ghost Santi.1'
Figure 1: The Ghost Santi
The uncanniness, though, lies not only in the subject matter, the
cumulative force of these images, but in the awareness of the "again and
again" of the process of repetition.1 For these children/Spain, history as
a return, or as the compulsion to repeat, feels like "living death" insofar
as it doesn't really die or end. History keeps on hurting these children/the
nation, some of whom will manage, nonetheless, to survive. Del Toro's
"indirect" telling of the Civil War, like other forms of traumatic narration,
preserves these experiences as events-even while it records them as
attempts at forgetting(Caruth, Unclaimed 27). Thus, Dr. Casares rejects
the ghost's existence; Jaim6 scoffs at there being a ghost; some of the
other boys believe that Santi has simply run away; and the film embraces
a "fantastic" mode-all of which variously serve to distance or keep the
traumatic knowledge of death at bay. This dialectic of preserving and
forgetting points to a (national) struggle with death that is finally
unmastered. This is especially manifest in the character Jaim6, whose
denial of the ghost serves as a kind ofwish-fulfillment, a way to stave off
a horrible guilt that, because he was not capable of fighting Jacinto or able
to swim into the pool and bring the unconscious Santi to the surface,
Here’s what’s next.
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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/m1/44/: accessed February 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .