Arlene Holsclaw, a young woman in her late twenties, just released from an eight-year prison term for accidentally killing a cabdriver during a robbery. Although physically free, Arlene is psychologically captive to the dehumanization and abuse suffered since early childhood, and her struggle to overcome her past and the self-destructive behavior it engendered forms her central conflict. Arlene, who is driven by her desire to acquire custody of her son and who is fighting to live a normal life and be treated respectfully, encounters people from her past who, in refusing to acknowledge her as a human being, make difficult her struggle to achieve self-fulfillment and self-love. Her strength and courage, both in confronting these ghosts from her past that have molded her into a hostile, cynical, and dispassionate woman and in rejecting their inhumanity toward her, enable her reconciliation with the past and her resignation to live free from the psychological prison and conditioning of her youth.
Arlie Holsclaw, Arlene as an abusive, volatile, and troublemaking teenager, recalled in flashbacks. Arlie is the psyche of Arlene, reliving those painful childhood experiences that shaped and molded Arlene into a displaced, lonely, and bitter child. The memories Arlie enacts, all depicting her life of victimization, particularly the sexual molestation by her father as well as dehumanized treatment of her in prison, are those incidents that robbed her of self-esteem and that she must now confront and exorcise if she...
(The entire section is 647 words.)