The Desire to Conquer in Jesusville

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The interlude in which Vee visits the museum of exotic dancers is quite interesting; I think one of the purposes of the scene was too reinforce the idea of rape that runs throughout the novel. Specifically with this idea of rape, I refer to the desire/need to conquer and to be conquered. This idea can be illustrated by several of the characters.

The first character I will begin with is Jessie Belle. At the beginning of their adventure into the mountains, Jessie introduces her truck to Trace as “Jessie Belle the Second. My shadow Self” (pg 84). Trace then adds the comment, “Kind of like an alter ego” (pg 84). This becomes an interesting statement when we later receive a description of Jessie Belle with her truck. Cioffari writes that Trace was “impressed, too, by the skill she used to maneuver the old jeep, forcing it to do her will” (pg 85). If we consider Jessie Belle the Second as an extension of Jessie, then we can see a connection as to how Jessie is in need of conquering something within her. This need to conquer is manifested in her search for Joshua and the Salvia Divinorum. In finding the plant, Jessie is able to see Joshua for a final time through her hallucinations, and at the end of the novel seems to have “conquered” what she needed in order to move on. A second instance that reinforces this idea is the interlude which describes Jessie’s hallucination. Under the “influence” of the Salvia, Jessie dances and touches herself. It is through this act that we see Jessie’s consciousness, as it is under the influence of the plant, “conquering” her unconscious self –another illustration of Jessie’s need to conquer something within her.

A second character that we see this idea manifested through is Father Martin. He, like Jessie, is in need of conquering something within. In his case it is his own doubts and fears. Attempting to calm his nerves, Father Martin paces to tire himself. He describes the night as having an “overpowering silence” and that the night “mocked his efforts” (pg 75). Father Martin hears the night taunting him, “Walk from here to kingdom come. For the next six hours I own you. I’ll do with you what I will.” A few pages later we see an encounter (arguably sexual) in which Martin conquers the silence through his act of ringing the bells.
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