Jeannette Feels No Pain
by Megan Parker
In class, we have talked about how Jeannette gets hurt numerous times as a child and describes what has happened to her but never seems to describe any pain she feels. For example, the first scene in the book, Jeanette recounts a time of when she was three years old and cooking hot dogs on the stove by herself.
As she turned to offer her black mutt, Juju, a piece of the hotdog, her dress caught on fire, which led to her receiving serious burns all along the side of her body. From the time of her first getting burned to the time of her finally getting out of the hospital, not once did Jeannette mention anything about pain. In fact, on page 10, the nurses whisper to Jeannette that she is going to be okay while they are wheeling her to the emergency room. Jeannette responds in an extremely calm manner with, “but if I’m not, that’s okay, too.”
For as young as Jeannette is, it seems odd that she did not complain about any pain or did not have a problem with thinking of herself not being okay. Another incident of when Jeanette gets hurt and does not mention pain is when the Walls had just moved to Blythe. During her first few days of school, Jeanette was walking home and four Mexican girls had jumped her in an alleyway. She describes, “I came home that night with scraped knees and elbows and a busted lip” (45). As she illustrates what has happened to her, again, she does not mention herself in pain.
Also, when her dad notices that she had gotten into a fight, she says to him, “Just a little dustup” (45). Jeanette not only does not bring up any hurt, she blows off the incident with her father and acts like it was no big deal. On page 59, Jeanette tells about another time that she got hurt when she was young. She explains how she was climbing over an old fence and an old nail ripped her thigh.
Her friend’s mother thought she should get stitches and a tetanus shot to prevent any sickness but Jeanette’s mother thought she could deal with it on her own, describing it as just a “minor flesh wound.” There are many ideas as to why I think that Jeanette does not talk about the pain including the fear of what her parents would say and just the fact of how she was raised. Jeanette was raised with her father and mother who did not worry much about her getting hurt unless it would put her near death. As she grew up, I think she had the thought that unless she was not going to be okay, it did not hurt. Along with that, I think that because her parents raised her this way, it would be out of the question for her to complain of any pain.
I believe that her parents would be angry, not take her to the hospital, and tell her to suck it up, which would defeat the purpose of her being in pain. The way her parents raised her is much different than the way most parents in our society raise their children. In our society, I think most parents would try to comfort their children and do what they could to get them out of any pain they were in. I do not think it has anything to do with the love of their parents, I think it primarily has to do with the values of parents in our society and the values of Jeanette’s parents.