Tag Archives: Pain

The Hostility of Our Words

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My first reaction to this image is one of hopelessness. The image conveys the boy’s pain so well that I begin to feel it myself.

The image conveys a scene in which a young boy is seemingly being choked by an arm constructed of words. Upon closer inspection, though, there are a number of subtle elements that affect the way the audience feels about the image. The hopeless feeling, for example is exaggerated with several features. Among these are the darkened edges of the picture, the pale and flawless skin of the child, and the tilted gaze. The darkened edges provide a sense of constriction and imminent darkness. Meanwhile, the color and smooth texture of the skin suggest a sense of purity and innocence; to see this swallowed by darkness triggers an subconscious bell in the mind of the audience, further playing with their emotions. In addition to all this, the inclined line of sight suggests that the boy is being abused by someone larger and older than he, perhaps a parent or another adult. By placing the viewer at the same level of the child the artists allows all of these characteristics to be viewed from the his perspective.

After the assault of emotions, one’s eye would be drawn to the writing on the arm; derogatory words such as “moron” and “fool” are used to construct the skin. One may also note that the color of the ink (black) also suggests a tainted, or corrupt soul. It can be inferred that the artist is attempting to show the equal harm that words can cause.

This image immediately lets the viewer know that the subject is child abuse, but it uses subtler elements such as slant, color, and perspective to effectively compromise their emotions. Once having achieved this the viewer may go on to realize that verbal abuse can be just as harmful to children as physical abuse.