A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing Summary & Study Guide

Eimear McBride
This Study Guide consists of approximately 30 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing.
This section contains 443 words
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A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing Summary & Study Guide Description

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride.

“A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing” is a young adult novel by Eimear McBride, which recounts the life of the unnamed narrator and her unnamed brother as he struggles with cancer, and she struggles with psychological, physical, and sexual abuse.

When the novel begins, the narrator’s brother has survived a cancerous brain tumor, and apart from bullying at school due to the scar on his head, the siblings seem to live a relatively normal life. The brother is, by far, valued by the mother over the sister for everything he has been through – but even this doesn’t pose too much of a challenge on the narrator. She mostly deals with the favoritism, even though she is unhappy about it.

Everything changes when the narrator is 13, however. The narrator becomes the victim of sexual abuse as she is raped by her uncle. Rather than speaking out about the crime, she tries to rationalize it. She comes to a place in which she is able to accept the rape as somehow normal rather than to reject the rape as wrong. The narrator then spends the next few years attempting to live normally, but her brother’s deteriorating health and her rocky home life compel her to seek out relief elsewhere.

As a result, the narrator spends much of high school sleeping with as many boys and men as she can, for it gives her a sense of power. When she goes away to college, she continues to sleep with men, and begins a sexual affair with her uncle. This sexual affair with her uncle continues unabated for months, and only stops when the narrator goes home on breaks. What is surprising is that the narrator is the one who initiates many of the sexual encounters – a reversal of power for the narrator.

As the narrator’s brother’s cancer returns, the narrator becomes more and more lost emotionally and mentally, finding relief only in painful sexual encounters – many of which she encourages to the point of violence, where she is slapped and beaten. Eventually, the narrator has had enough, and decides to be better for her brother’s sake. She knows that some good must come out of her brother’s death.

However, the narrator’s uncle refuses to let her go, and continues to sexually molest her. Shortly after her brother dies, the narrator is raped and beaten while out walking. Returning home, the narrator’s mother insults her and tells her she is, in effect, a horrible person – that she is a disgrace. The narrator herself goes out into the night, heartbroken, and commits suicide by drowning.

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This section contains 443 words
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