Piecing Together the “Pieces of Herself”
Pieces of Herself by Juliet Davis captivates the awareness of feminism and gender identification through the unknown character’s eyes and the public’s eyes in multiple settings surrounding a person’s everyday life. This piece of electronic literature is described as “ironic” and “playful,” in which Davis uses interactive digital media to convey her message to the reader. This person remains nameless throughout the story in an attempt to reconstruct her lost identity using drag and drop to help “dress- up” the doll that appears only as a silhouette in order to maintain that idea of hidden emptiness.
When first entering Pieces of Herself, a text slowly popped up line-by-line, stating, “Her friends said she needed to “find” herself And sure enough, when she started looking, she found pieces of herself everywhere…” This line automatically made me realize that this piece of electronic literature would be more interactive with the reader more than anything else. The first place the story takes you to is the bathroom and as the screen appears there is an awful, loud sound that appears simultaneously. That sound is short, but undoubtedly grabs your attention from the start. Realizing this, I knew that sound/noise would be an essential part of this piece.
While exploring the rest of the story, I noticed that the overwhelming noises coming from different items I either scrolled over or clicked and dragged in order to move from the scene to the doll were beyond frustrating. Once listening closely to those sounds I came to realize not only of the importance of the meaning of each individual sound, but the fact that they looped around or played once and stopped was just as significant. For example, the floating journal scribbling’s represented heartbreak and the statements of her wishing her children to have the best and trying to hide herself at work in order to avoid harassment was a representation of regret. These repeating sounds, noises, and music all symbolize a complex, conflicting and distraught human being. What I found to be an unsatisfying experience was the attempt in listening to the different sounds, one would override another and it made it almost impossible to hear anything. I assume that is what the author wanted the reader to have to go through in order for the reader to understand the character’s emotional distress.
After exploring other readers from different sites, I have come to understand their viewpoint of certain aspects. There were a few different articles discussing the “ending” of this story. As one person described the ending, they stated that Pieces of Herself stopped when the reader collects and/or triggers all objects that appear in each scene. Another person argues that there is no true resolution in which no one truly understands himself or herself and people constantly change while facing new conflicts. A third person claims the story cannot be viewed as “singular” or as a clear picture, just as life itself. I agree with all of these opinions because when it comes to reading electronic literature or any literature for that matter, it comes down to the reader’s thoughts and views on that specific piece.
Generally, I would describe Pieces of Herself as an outrageous and overpowering piece of electronic literature. Davis was able to captivate the reader’s usual way of perceiving their normal, everyday scenery and rationalizing certain images of items from something so “outside of the box” and turning it into a relatable object. As the reader, I was capable of getting through this seemingly irritating and bothersome piece, in order to obtain my goal of understanding what Davis was trying to demonstrate. People living their everyday lives with their everyday friends/family, living in their everyday homes and showing up to their everyday jobs may come off a certain way, but on the inside may be struggling with who they really are or what they can really be. The goal is to explore everything around you until you find out exactly what does and does not work for you, just like in Pieces of Herself.