The Desire to Conquer in Jesusville

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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Cioffari writes,” He liked the feel of the rope in his hands, the strain of drawing down on the heavy metal” (pg 79). He continues, “He could no longer say with any certainty what that significance was, but that only marginalized his pleasure” (pg 79). Later in the novel Martin states, “Something’s happening, about to happen. I can feel it. It’s inside me and it’s outside me. Two forces about to collide” (pg 121). Martin finds his purpose in the conclusion of the novel as two forces, good and evil, “collide.” In the final pages of the novel, Martin is asked to give everyone their “last rites” (pg 239). Cioffari writes, “This was, he thought, the most difficult thing God had ever called upon him to do: prepare these unfortunate souls, and himself, for eternal life. This was what his dreams had been warning him of” (pg 239). Before his death we read, “A calm had settled upon Father Martin and he looked down at his assailant without fear” (pg 253). In the conclusion of the novel we see that Father Martin was able to conquer his doubts and fears.
The last character to be discussed, Vee, is the most obvious illustration of these ideas. It is in Vee’s desire to be conquered that she is finally “saved” and able to conquer her lack of purpose and loneliness. Vee’s first attempt at being “conquered” comes when she directs Trace to make love to her and to make her feel safe (pg 72). Cioffari writes, “She wanted the ride to be continuous, a rising that would not falter, that would take her surely and steadily to the place where loneliness dies” (pg 73). This reverberates later in the novel during her sexual interlude with Dillon. Having foreshadowed the rape earlier in the book, Dillon takes “possession” of Vee’s body—a conquering that she had longed for. Cioffari writes, “When she took his sex and brought it up inside her she thought, This is where I die, this is where I die and she heard a small voice form a long-abandoned and forsaken part of her crying out Your death is your home, lost girl, death is where you always wanted to be” (Pg 152). It is this “dying of self,” this sense of being conquered, that Vee had longed to take place. The scene in which Vee visits the museum and talks with Miss Tauber becomes relevant in the way that it reinforces Vee’s and the other characters’ desire to “conquer” their own lives, finding both purpose and faith.

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