This psychoanalytical study is the study of the novel “The Comeback” written by Ella
Berman in 2020. Frued (1950) proclaims that Psychoanalysis theory deals with the specific
premises of the workings of the mind. Most of the novel’s chapters deal with Grace’s character,
who is exploited and manipulated at the age of fourteen by the Hollywood director, Able Yorke.
She seems to have fame and a reputation as a superstar, but on the inside, she is broken and living a
miserable life because of the traumatic experiences of sexual abuse. She becomes addicted to
alcohol and other drugs. Freud (1896) names this situation the effect of trauma. This dissertation
provides an understanding of Trauma theory through the character of the protagonist of the novel
The Comeback, and also presents the execution of the psychoanalysis theory by exploring the
unknown and hidden perspectives of Grace’s character. This research highlights how childhood
sexual abuse impacts the development of Grace’s character, and how sexual abuse leads to her.
Abnormal behavior.

It is a very common observation that the human mind tends to retain some memories, even if they are
bad or good, any experience which leaves an impact on a person’s life stays in the memory. That
A particular experience becomes eternalized in the memory of that person. Although the event that
happened once, does not go on happening, again and again, the memory of the traumatized
victim, becomes eternal. It happens again and again and always leaves the person in the same
agonized state in which he/she was left when encountered with that very experience for the first
time. There are times when a sudden outburst, a certain event, or even the slightest idea can lead
to the disorientation of thoughts and activities, just because the person

feels that he is experiencing the same event, again, only that he is not; and it is just his memory of
the circumstances which made him feel like this.


As a camera introduces us to invisible optics, as does psychoanalysis to the unconscious.
impulses. The theory of psychoanalysis is the most imposing theory we have in the post-war
period. It was birthed by the Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud in the 1950s, who provided a
radically new approach to the analysis and treatment of ‘abnormal’, sexual, and traumas’
behavior. It deals with the dynamics of the workings of the mind and focuses on the state of
mind of the author or the state of mind of characters created by the author. The closest
The connection between literature and psychoanalysis has always been located in literary theory.
Among these literary theories of literature, psychoanalysis is one of the modern theories that are
used in English literature. Caruth (1996) explained the relationship between literature and
psychoanalysis as
“If Freud turns to literature to describe the traumatic experience, it is because literature itself is
interested in the complex relationship between knowing and not knowing, and it is at this
specific point at which knowing and not knowing to intersect that the psychoanalytic theory of
traumatic experience and the language of literature meet.” (Caruth 1996)
It is regarded as a theory of behavior organization and the dynamics of the mind. Despite that,
Psychoanalysis study is considered a fascinating lens and constructive approach in the
application of interpretative analysis of any text. This dissertation details the psychoanalytical
study of the novel “The Comeback” penned by Ella Berman in 2020.

Grace is the protagonist of the novel. The whole story revolves around her. She is a young
actress who becomes a victim of sexual abuse at the age of fourteen. Hollywood director, Able
Yorke takes her to America and introduces her to the Hollywood industry. She becomes a
Hollywood star of a wildly successful film series, but all decisions about her life are in her hands.

of a controlling and manipulative director, Able Yorke. Grace depends on him, so he
manipulates and exploits her to the maximum. Although, she seems to have fame and a
reputation as a superstar. However, this was only one side of the coin, but behind that public
facade, Grace was raped by the same person, Able Yorke, who makes her a superstar in the
industry. Because of this trauma, she becomes addicted to alcohol and drugs so that she can
escape from her miserable life.

One day, on the cusp of awards season, she completely disappears from the public eye.
She spent years quietly. She has a complicated relationship with everyone. She lost the
connection with her parents, sister, and husband, whom she holds up as a saint. Grace returns to
Los Angeles after a year, and she struggles with her future. She tries hard to repair her
relationships with her loved ones and studio executives alike. Unfortunately, she observes the
same situation-those who run Hollywood, like Yorke, are still in power, and still exploiting that.
power to take advantage of young stars.

This psychoanalytical study discusses the mechanisms to find out the hidden meaning of
a literary text of the novel “The Comeback” particularly with the character of Grace. It also
helps us understand, the execution of the trauma theory, such as how childhood sexual abuse
trauma impacts the development of Grace’s character and how leads it to her Abnormal


The main objectives of this dissertation are,

1. To study the impact of childhood sexual abuse on the development of Grace’s
2. To study how sexual abuse causes abnormal behavior in the protagonist

Literature Review.

The psychoanalysis theory is one of the most consuming modern theories used in literary
analysis of the different genres. Despite this, whether psychoanalysis has a close connection with
literature or not, it has become one of the most interesting mechanisms for interpreting the
hidden meaning of the text. Psychoanalysis is not simply a branch of medicine, but it is also used
to understand various fields such as philosophy, culture, and religion, and is first and most used in
literature. So, significant numbers of studies can be found where researchers applied
psychoanalysis theory to different texts.

Khotimah (2004) in his thesis “psychoanalysis of Native Son (1940)” discusses Bigger’s
Character utilizing psychoanalysis theory which includes Freud’s psychoanalysis and the
Motivation theory of Human behavior by Fryer and Morgan and King. The thesis attempts to
uncover every psychological aspect of Bigger’s character through his behavior. This dissertation
has a similar approach, especially in psychoanalysis theory, although the object of the analysis is

Maupassant in his short story “The Necklace” (1888) has been analyzed several times as a
psychoanalytical study by different researchers. On J Stor, several articles have been published
where different researchers prepare a psychoanalytical study of the short story The Necklace.
Bement in his article (2011) offers an interpretation of Maupassant’s development of the
plot of The Necklace, believing that he may have considered the implications of both greed and
innocence to form his story. He comments upon the surprise ending in The Necklace and its
correlation to psychological realism and relates with psychoanalysis theory. O’Faolain in his
article (2013) in which he asserts that the cleverness of The Necklace lies not in the surprise
ending but in its realistic portrayal of human relationships and society. He said the shock ending of

The Necklace is the highlight of the story, condemning Maupassant’s portrayal of relationships.
as vague and unconvincing and his plot as improbable. In finding, all these articles’ authors
implement psychoanalysis theory on “The Necklace”.
An unpaid (2016) in his article on ” Cry the Peacock” portrays the psychic tumult of a
young and sensitive married girl Maya, who is haunted by a childhood prophecy of a fatal
disaster. She is the daughter of a rich advocate in Lucknow. Being alone in the family, with her mother
being dead and her brother having gone to America to carve his independent destiny, she gets the
most of her father’s affection and attention, and in her moments of affliction, exclaims to herself:
“No one, no one else, loves me as my father does”. The excessive love Maya gets from her father
makes her have a lop-sided view of life. She feels the world is a toy made especially for her.
painted in her favorite colors and set to move according to her tunes. On the other side, according
to Ayub (2018) ” Cry the Peacock (1963) “is about Neurosis and its impact on human personality
that have engaged the attention of both psychologists and creative writers. By following the
impact of Freud and the development of various psychological theories in the nineteenth
and the twentieth centuries, he examines how Maya, the protagonist of Anita Desai’s Cry, The
Peacock is forced into a psychotic state on account of an incompatible and unsympathetic marital

Anthony (1956) claimed that D.H. Lawrence’s novel “Sons and Lovers “gives grounds for a
psychoanalytic interpretation. The protagonist of the novel reexamines his relationship with his
mother and her psychological effect on his sexuality, which relates to one of Freud’s most
famous theories known as the Oedipus Complex (1899). According to Ramos, the work of D., H.
Lawrence provides evidence of personality development in Oedipal conflict and the pre-Oedipal
establishment of a sense of self. In the same regard, Jones (1922) in “A Psycho14
Analytic Study of Hamlet” argues (1922) that William Shakespeare’s tragic hero, Hamlet, suffers
from an Oedipus Complex one of Freud’s theories: is the idea that a male character is driven by
unconscious desires to kill his father and marry his mother.

Sarge (2019) Applied Psychoanalytic Theory to Macbeth. He suggests that the dynamic
character, that is Macbeth, all parts of Freud’s psyche surface, while choice characters such as
Lady Macbeth and King Duncan largely represent one psyche personality. Correspondingly,
Levine (2020) stated that the power of psychological suggestions motivates Macbeth to act on his
repressed desires. They are the contrasting counterparts Id and Superego, which are the most
imposing the concept of Freud on psychoanalysis theory.

Apart from the above particular research, a significant number of researches have been
conducted to identify research articles, investigating the correlation between sexual abuse and its
aftereffects. Many studies also examined multiple or single incidents of abuse and both.
childhood and adult victimization.

Research Question.

• How do childhood sexual abuse and its aftereffects impact the
development of Grace’s character?
• To what extent does the sexual abuse of the protagonist show her
abnormal behavior?

Theoretical Framework.

Numerous theories deal with mind and behavior; however, the most known theory is
psychoanalysis theory. It was developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian

Neurologist Sigmund Freud provided a radically new approach to the analysis and treatment
of ‘abnormal’, sexual, and any kind of traumatic behavior. Before this, critics ignored the
behavioral errors and look for a physiological explanation of ‘abnormality,’ however, with the
introduction of Freudian theories, critics recognized that abnormal behavior was not meaningless.
but always happens because of an intense cause, and Freud named its trauma.

Detail description of the unconscious mind by Freud. He defines the
unconscious as the part of the mind that lies outside the somewhat vague and porous boundaries
of consciousness. He also relates unconsciousness to the Laws of Transformation. These
principles that govern the process of repression Psychoanalytic Theory used in English Literature:
the unconscious works as the theoretical function of making the relation between adult behavior
intelligible and childhood experience.

Freud proposed three structures of the psyche or personality. It refers to a selfish,
primitive, childish pleasure-oriented part of the personality with no ability to delay gratification.
Whereas Super Ego refers to internalized societal and parental standards of ‘good’ and ‘bad’,
‘right’ and ‘wrong’ behavior’, and Ego refers to the moderator between the Id and Super-Ego
which seeks compromises to pacify both. It is not clear what would count as evidence sufficient
to confirm or refute theoretical claims. The theory is based on an inadequate conceptualization of
the experience of women. The theory overemphasizes the role of sexuality in human
psychological development that leads to trauma.

According to Judith Herman (I992), trauma theory has provided a framework for understanding
how individuals process devastating experiences. Psychological trauma is an affliction of the
powerless. At the moment of trauma, the victim is rendered helpless by overwhelming force.
Traumatic events overwhelm the ordinary systems of care that give people

a sense of control, connection, and meaning. Traumatic events are extraordinary, not because
they occur rarely, but rather because they overwhelm ordinary human adaptations to life.
According to the Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, the common denominator of
psychological trauma is a feeling of “intense fear, helplessness, loss of control, and the threat of

Traumatic events shatter our basic assumptions that we will be safe, that we are good people.
and that our future relations would not do anything to harm us. Trauma reactions are
psychophysiological responses to overwhelming events that the individual cannot integrate
(Herman, 1992). Sexual abuse cannot be assimilated with our sense of self in the world. The
The dissociative process plays an important role in this regard. Braun (1990) describes it as follows:

Dissociating is to sever the association of one thing from another. In psychiatry, dissociation is a
defensive process that can intercede between affective states and thoughts to separate them from
the mainstream of consciousness, between parts of behavioral chains, or between effects,
behaviors, and thoughts. Dissociation may affect or distort the input level of perception.
Another important aspect of the traumatic response is hyperarousal. This includes startle
reactions, irritability, hypervigilance, and difficulty with modulating the intensity of the effect.
“After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go on to
permanent alert, as if danger might return at any moment. Physiological arousal continues
unabated” (Herman, 1992). It is believed that this hyperarousal is physiological as well as
psychological in nature. There is evidence that trauma causes lasting biochemical and
neuroanatomical changes (Greenberg, 1998).

The Comeback belongs to the psychological genre. Psychoanalysis and trauma theory
has been used as a theoretical framework for the research. The comeback is a psychological
novel, in which the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of Grace and other characters have
greater interest than their external action or words. There are clear pieces of evidence that the
internal states of Grace’s character and the emotional reactions that lead to her abnormal behavior.
So, the novel I have chosen entirely fits the psychoanalysis theory.


This psychoanalysis study starts with the abstract, which summarizes the major aspects of
the entire dissertation in a prescribed sequence that included: the overall purpose of the study. The
research problem, and at the end major theory of the paper. The second heading is the heading of
the introduction, which contains five steps. the first step has introduced the topic and defined
theories. The background and introduction of the novel. After this, there is the research problem
and objectives of the dissertation. The next heading is about the literature review, which provides a
description and comprehensive summary of each source. After the literature review, chapter one
starts which deals with the research question, of how sexual abuse impacts the development of the
character of Grace, where I have provided bulk evidence from the novel’s text to support ideas.

The backup text gives the idea of the negative impact of the sexual abuse Grace experienced in
the novel. It is justified that Grace is a disturbing character who was manipulated, exploited, and
the victim of sexual abuse starting at the age of fourteen. Chapter 1 leads to chapter 2, in which I
have talked about the abnormal actions of Grace. Chapter 2 is backed up with the evidence from
the text of the novel. Chapter 2 talks about the character of Grace, who is not easy to understand.
She is trying not only to cope with all that has been taken away from her but also with what has been
done to her. Lastly, there is the conclusion which provides a summary of the whole study.


Sexual Abuse:

Childhood Sexual Abuse and Its Aftereffects
Childhood sexual abuse impacts the victim in adulthood. Childhood is the age of
learning and developing character where a child learns to understand the meaning of being
protected. According to Herman, (1992) having stability and a healthy childhood environment
allows you to form solid and safe relationships later in life. However, this is the ideal definition of
an experience of childhood. In reality, we have many children who experience
sexual abuse and harassment in their childhood. As the character of Grace symbolizes one of
among them who faces trauma, she has experienced sexual abuse and harassment in her childhood.
which impact the development of her character. Grace is a disturbing character who was
controlled and exploited while working in Hollywood by her director. This exploitation Impacts
the development of Grace’s Character.

The very abnormal decision she makes is when she has the fame of her career, she
disappears from the public eye. The trauma of all events impacts the development of Grace’s
character. Trauma theory has also helped to recognize the fact that women are more prone to get
affected by traumas and develop psychiatric reactions to them as compared to men. This claim
has been justified by a history of feminist concerns about oppression, gaslighting, and lack of
acceptance. Trauma theory has created a language that has been effective for the interpretation of
reactions due to abuse such as nightmares and traumatic flashbacks, which were previously not
acknowledged as having psychological implications. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is
also included in the list of psychological disorders as a result of the expansion of trauma theory.
This is now being incorporated into feminist literature, as in Grace’s character.

“On the day of the Independent Film Awards, I wake in the middle of the night sweating,
my pillow soaked. I dreamt Able was in the room with me while I slept, but I couldn’t move or
call out, because his hands were around my neck, pinning me down all over again. I reach for my
painkillers before remembering I left them at Laurel’s. After that, I sob into my pillow until I can
I hardly breathe, while the sky lightens around me. I don’t know how to be normal, how to stop.
him from being able to reach me. “(The Comeback, Berman,2020).

Because of sexual abuse and its impact on her life, she starts using alcohol and drugs. she
has complex character development as she has a complicated relationship with everyone and
everything: these are the aftereffects of sexual abuse. The feeling is primitive, raw, unlike
anything she has ever felt before. She is up again and running into the icy water as thick
raindrops continue to fall from the sky. Able Yorke’s manipulation gets worse as the only
person she had in the world was Able; At the start, he was only emotionally abusive. But with time,
Able’s motives become more sexual. She wants to get rid of this life, but she couldn’t because she
is controlled by Able psychologically as well as physically, and that controlled life provides a
sketch of how she is reacting towards people and things after that incident of sexual abuse. “I have
spent years trying to work out what I could have done differently, or maybe what my parents
could have done differently.

I should have told someone after the first time he made me touch.
him, or when he told me I was mentally unstable for the hundredth time. Maybe I shouldn’t have
waited until every part of my life was already destroyed before I tried to kill myself. Maybe I
shouldn’t have worked so hard to become, as I was told just this morning, such an unreliable
witness. But it was never really up to me, was it?” (The Comeback, Berman, 2020). She has a
miserable life in Hollywood, as Able York abuses her mentally as well as physically. At the start,
Grace praises Able and considers him a good person. But after a year, when Grace
meets Able, she is terrified and seems to have developed a complex personality disorder.

Borderline personality disorder has also been identified as a mental disorder that is the result of
chronic child abuse (Herman, 1992). That has led to reinterpretation and progress in the
development of understanding of generalized female hysterical conditions.

“Why are you so scared of everything?” Esme asks, looking at me as if I’m a stranger. Every
The emotion I am feeling is reflected in such excruciating detail on her face that I have to turn away.
“You know that I didn’t ask for you to follow me around, right? I have never invited you over,
not even once. I don’t know how to help you and I can’t tell you that everything works out in the
end, because it doesn’t, and the truth is that you will never get what you want, because, by the
time you do, you won’t want it anymore. That’s the secret of the fucking universe that nobody
wants to admit to themselves. Do you feel better for knowing it?” She takes a step back, leaving
me and Able staring at each other.

Each synapse in my body is firing, screaming at me to get
away from him, but I force myself to step toward him instead, because Emilia is watching and I
I don’t want her to see how scared I am. I kiss Able stiffly on the cheek, and his golden skin is still
papery and rough up close, just like it is in my nightmares.” (The Comeback, Berman 2020).
Her poor and pathetic connection with her parents, and with her sister, she was too young when
she left home shows the weakness of her character development. On the other side, When Grace
returns to Los Angeles after a year, she struggles with her future, which again symbolizes the
negative impact of sexual abuse on her development as a character.

“I was untouchable, unstoppable, hurtling down a path to immortality so rapidly, so
immaculately, that not one person stopped to question how it all worked so well, a fortysomething
A man and a teenager being so inextricably linked. I know the power imbalance that exists every
the time you meet someone who’s seen you at your most vulnerable, whether or not it was your
choice in the first place. How do you have to hope that they don’t use it against you in some way, or
say something flippant that might burn its way into your sense of self, resurfacing every time you
look at your body in the mirror or undress in front of your partner.” (The Comeback,
Berman, 2020).

She wanders from place to place and then reaches her parents’ home in Anaheim, London.
which shows that something very complex is disturbing her life. “Maybe my mom was right
about me when she said I wasn’t happy, but what she doesn’t understand is that since the age of
fifteen, I’ve never even dared to want to be happy. I’m just trying to stay alive.” (The Comeback,
Berman, 2020).

Isolation is one of the parts of Psychological Defense Mechanisms. This mechanism of
isolation is created by the ego which deals with reality. When there is a conflict between the conscious
and unconscious mind, a person suppresses his painful feelings. But it does not end here, the mind
always finds another way to express emotions through mechanisms. Here this thing is
evident that Grace is suppressing her painful emotions, as there is a conflict between her
conscious and unconscious mind.

“Do you want to know why I left you? I left because you never wanted to see who I was.
You had this image of me as this little lost girl who you could rescue with your love, and you.
panicked when it turned out not to be as simple as that. Your love suffocated me because it was a
love for somebody else. You never took the time to get to know who I was, and the one night I
tried to tell you, you didn’t want to know. That’s why I’m fucking left.” (The Comeback,
Berman, 2020).

She is using the mechanisms of isolation to deal with her trauma. She isolates herself from
her work and people. She pulls up outside her parents’ house and makes her way to the front door as fast as she
can. She rings the bell and her dads opens the door within seconds. When he sees Grace,
standing there on her crutches, with her battered face, he takes a step back, gripping the wall to
steady himself because Grace had been staying with a friend in Ojai, and then she came home in
the morning.

“How did she seem when she got home?” He looks at my mom, but neither of them seems to
know how to answer. “I think she seemed fine,” my mom says helplessly. “But maybe I don’t
know her anymore. Do you think she’s at a friend’s house? Do I need to call the police? How am
I supposed to tell them we just, lost her?” (The Comeback, Berman, 2020).

The character of Grace is not easy to understand. It’s a character who is trying not only
to cope with all that has been taken away from her, but also what has been done to her. The most
The vicious demons have always been her own, and she has never learned how to protect herself.
from them. As we have discussed she was exploited to the point where she could not trust
anyone, even including her parents, her friends, her sister, and her husband. Thereupon, the
The development of Grace’s character can be figured out from her choices, and her relationship with her.
younger sister, Esme, and her rocky marriage. She failed in all and chose drugs, fake friends,
and other self-destructive behavior.

“So, you were just swimming, my mother says, frowning at my sister and me over a
breakfast of Lucky Charms with diced strawberries. “I was just swimming,” Esme says
authoritatively. “In the torrential rain.” “In the torrential rain,” Esme repeats. “Like your sister
was just driving off a mountain on Christmas Eve.” My sister and I exchanged a look. I swallow a
mouthful of milky, powdered chemicals. “Just like that,” I say, shrugging. “I don’t know how we
raised two such thrill-seekers,” my dad says, pouring more cereal into Esme’s bowl, “when I’ve
never even smoked a cigarette.” (The Comeback, Berman, 2020).

In short, sexual abuse and its aftereffects badly impact the development of Grace’s character.
Here we can see the traces of “parapraxis” (Barry 2002) in Grace’s character. The development
of the character is full of flaws and complexity. Sometimes, she is self-absorbed and selfish, but
at the same time, she is broken and careless. So, in Grace, the writer has created a complex and
complicated character and the author has justified the impact of childhood sexual abuse. Sexual
The abuse badly affects the protagonist, which leads her to abnormal behavior.


Abnormal Behavior: Childhood Sexual Abuse and Abnormal Behavior Grace has
abnormal behavior because of childhood sexual abuse. According to the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (1999), early childhood sexual abuse leads to
neurodevelopmental abnormalities in the temporal behavior of the victim. Mediating sexual
arousal and erotic discrimination lead to badly impacting the cognitive aspects of sexual
desire and behavior. In this way, if there is sexual abuse or harassment, specifically sociopathy
and cognitive distortions, very few chances are failure to inhibit pedophilic behavior. Grace also
experienced above all scenarios that are why she has unstable and abnormal behavior. “Grace,”
her mother says quietly from over his shoulder. She’s standing behind him in a purple velour

“You look awful.” I shuffled toward her, every single bone in my body still sore. She
hugs me for longer than usual, and I try not to pull away too early, even though all I can think
about is finding my sister. “How are you feeling?” my dad says, patting her on the shoulder. She
tries to smile reassuringly and then ends up shrugging instead. “Still kicking,” she says, and it
seems to be enough for them. she turns to my mother. “What exactly did Esme say before she
left?” “I already told you. She said she was going to stay with you for a couple of days. You
weren’t answering our calls, but there isn’t anything out of the ordinary there,” her mom says,
but her heart isn’t really in it. She seems even smaller when she’s frightened. (The Comeback,
Berman, 2020).”

Why did Grace give up when she was a rising star in Hollywood and one movie away from
being an A-List Actress? This is not only a simple question but a matter of contention that
shows abnormal and complex behavior of Grace. From Hollywood fame to living hidden
life, cannot be the decision of normal persons. Add to this, the environment Grace has in her
The parents’ house also gives the reader a graphic description of her behavior. She seems stuck
whenever she talks to Able. This can easily be explained through contemporary literary trauma
theory. “A central claim of contemporary literary trauma theory asserts that trauma creates a
speechless fright that divides or destroys identity. “(Balaev, 2008) Place and location also have
found their place in the discussion of traumatic experiences and their remembrance in the
victim’s scenario. The place can be geographical or metaphorical, as in the case of the
protagonist of The Comeback as her traumatic experiences are tied to the place and environment
of Hollywood.

“The primacy of place in the representations of trauma anchors the individual
experience within a larger cultural context, and, organizes the memory and meaning. “(Balaev.
2008). The location of Hollywood plays a great role in shaping her experience in Hollywood.
received criticism many times before in this regard. Young starlets are launched haphazard
fame showing complete disregard for their mental health. What results are young girls that
become celebrities in the eyes of the world but suffer greatly in their personal life? Grace is an
epitome of this phenomenon because she faces a similar fate as that of Britney Spears or Lindsay
Lohan where was exploited and then left alone to cope with her issues. The abuser stays
glorified while the victim has to face the darkness.

“They hover around him and laugh too loudly, even when he’s not being funny, which is
most of the time. I remember how important it felt to remain in his glowing orbit, to do whatever
it took not to be cast back into the dark. He controls everyone around him, refusing to
acknowledge my presence because he doesn’t have to, even though I know that he’s spotted me
from the deliberate way he will look anywhere but at me. I am in Able’s office. I was going to
leave, but instead, my body led me here, and I don’t know what I wanted, but my heart is racing.
fast in my chest and I feel sick and scared, and it’s clear to me now that everything is the same as it was.
back then, that I am the same, and that I always will be.” (The Comeback, Berman, 2020). Grace
seems to have a glorious lifestyle in Hollywood. However, underneath that glamor, there is a
miserable life. Under the shadow of this glamor, there is darkness. she is alone with her secrets,
secrets that have rocked her sense of safety.

“You do know that everyone feels like that? That it’s hard to feel worthy of anyone’s
love because we all know how shitty and selfish and fucked up, we are on the inside, but we still
work at it” (The Comeback, Berman, 2020).

Nonetheless, she tried to leave it all behind and tried to forget what she had left behind.
but that road is long and leads to many bumps along the way.

Grace Turner’s decision of disappearing and leaving it all behind at the height of her
fame as a young and up-coming Hollywood star, shows the complexity of her mind. Though,
she is living a luxurious life as a public figure. She has everything a celebrity could have
but still, somewhere she has abnormal behavior.

“I take three pills as soon as I’m home, then I sit on the sofa in the living room, waiting
for the morning to come. When it finally does, the sun casts streaks of white gold across the
blue sky, I have to close the blinds because everything seems too hopeful with them open. It’s
Christmas Eve and this is a city for people who wake up every morning believing that today
could be the day their lives are transformed, not for people like me. I should have known that
everything I touch eventually gets destroyed, like a curse Able handed down to me. “(The
Comeback, Berman,2020).

Whenever it comes to her mind, that an incident happened to her, she starts behaving abnormally.
unsure, unstable, and terrified. Able abuses her from teenager to adult. After that incident,
she lost her trust in herself. She was perplexed about relationships and no one else but Able made
here like this. Here we can see that “Freudian Slip” (Barry 2002) is very clear in Grace’s
character. She is taking actions and making decisions unintentionally.
“Do you want to know why I left you? I left because you never wanted to see who I was.
You had this image of me as this little lost girl who you could rescue with your love, and you.
panicked when it turned out not to be as simple as that. Your love suffocated me because it was a
love for somebody else. You never took the time to get to know who I was, and the one night I
tried to tell you, you didn’t want to know. That’s why I’m fucking left.” (The Comeback,
Berman, 2020).

A well-known example mechanism is a Freudian slip, which Freud himself called the
‘parapraxis’, whereby repressed material in the unconscious finds an outlet through such
everyday phenomena as slips of the tongue, slips of the pen, or unintended actions. (Barry 2002).
Grace is showing ‘parapraxis’ in her behavior. This thing is evident that her
This behavior is not normal. She is fighting with her fears and insecurities, and at the same time when
as she tries to hold things and relationships, she ends up with unintended actions and abnormal

In the public eye, Grace has a graceful life one can know about her; real-life comes out when
Esme asks her: Why are you so scared of everything?

Over time, Able Yorke’s manipulative method got worse as the only person she had in the
The world is Able, so, he leaves no stone unborn. At the start, he was only emotionally abusive and
carefully gaslights any chance so that he can get to keep a firm grip on her life. But with time,
Able’s motives become more sexual. Grace was blind and unaware of what was happening.

Dark thoughts that spin round and round lead her to strange behavior over the next few
For years, Grace relies on drugs and alcohol to numb her mind, which is a severe form of Patric disease.
behavior. Ella Berman created a slow-burn character that is full of riddled with emotion.
Grace’s personality can be reflected through Grace’s confusion, anger, and hurt.
“Clearing the fog moments at a time, I take a step and then 10 stops, paralyzed. “Where I
am going? And where have I been? Everyone asks, but I do not know. Surely there must be
some limit to how many times you’re allowed to hurt another human.” (The Comeback,
Berman, 2020).

Because of dysfunctional behavior, she failed to interact with her family and didn’t win.
favor. On the other side, somewhere, her behavior is also witty. For example, buried in piles of
self-doubt are many droll comments made by Grace. “I think about another type of revenge -the
the quieter, less explosive kind I could inflict just by living my life despite him. “(The Comeback,
Berman, 2020).

she is verbally, emotionally, and sexually abused by a man who manipulated her to
depend only on him. The effects of this abuse are long-term and present-day Grace is not.
equipped to be a successful adult., it was inevitable that she would crash and burn. She is
sexually and emotionally abused by a man because he was the only person whom she could trust.
we see the saddest is that Grace has only a relationship with Able, not with her husband or
family. So, throughout the plot, Grace’s character is palpable.

“So, I think this is the part where I introduce Able and thank him for his unending commitment
to giving independent films a platform, for his tireless contribution to our industry as a whole,
and, most of all, for everything he’s done for me. This is definitely what I’m supposed to do;” I
I say, my voice shaking. I clear my throat, and the audience is so quiet I wonder if they can hear.
my heart beat through the microphone. “I have spent years trying to work out what I could
have done differently, or maybe what my parents could have done differently. I should have told
someone after the first time he made me touch him, or when he told me I was mentally unstable
for the hundredth time. Maybe I shouldn’t have waited until every part of my life was already
destroyed before I tried to kill myself.” (The Comeback, Berman, 2020).

There are sudden changes in Grace when someone talks about Able in front of her, which mean
which means her mind of Grace is associated with fear and aggression through Able.
Grace’s sentiments spark a long-term pattern of dislike because it’s validated by action. Negative
feelings toward Able get stronger as bad experiences take place repeatedly. Furthermore, these
thoughts trigger the intense responses in her mind that cause abnormal behavior. “Grace. I
think you know what I’m about to ask you. Do you want to tell me about Able Yorke?” I told my
hands in my lap and lean toward her, my chest constricting and exploding at the same time. My
breath comes short and fast, out, out, out like a horse in labor. I know what she wants from me,
but I can’t give it to her because the story isn’t going to be what she thinks it is. It never is.” (The
Comeback, Berman,2020).

Thereupon, abnormal behavior can be seen in almost every chapter of the novel. She is confused
about everything around her. On the other side, this seems also true that the most vicious
demons have always been her own, and she never learned how to protect herself from them. Later,
she was exploited to the point where she could trust no one, even including her parents, her
friends, her sister, and her husband.

“I watch from the side of the stage as the young actress introduces Able simply, ridiculously, as
the man who saved independent cinema. She’s never been in one of his films, and I can’t figure
out the connection between them. When her introduction ends soon after that, I realize it’s
because there isn’t one, that she’s just one more person desperate for the chance to be somebody.
else. I’m Grace Turner,” I said scathingly. “I’m Able’s surprise guest.” (The Comeback,
Berman, 2020).

The development of Grace’s behavior can be figured out from her choices. Her relationship with
her younger sister, Esme, and her rocky marriage. She failed in all and chose drugs, fake friends,
and other self-destructive behavior.

“So, actually, I am here to thank you, Able, in a way.” I turned to look at him, for just a moment.
and I can see that he would kill me right now if he could. I take a deep breath. “Thank you, for
making me aware that there is an infinite number of ways to get hurt, every day of my life, even
when you are nowhere near me.” The room is more than silent—it is frozen in time. I am
suspended above them, my words floating and falling around us all like blossoms, settling into
the darkest, loneliest crevices of Hollywood.“Because knowing what I know, and still getting up

every single day, despite it? That makes me stronger, braver, and better than you. So, Able,
you don’t get to have ruined me. Not even one tiny part of me.” (The Comeback, Berman, 2020).
She had nobody to share her emotions with. Even her parents were not interested in knowing.
what was wrong with her? Grace’s mother in particular takes Grace on her own at a very
young age and let her daughter be raised by strangers in the Hollywood industry. Expectedly,
Grace becomes the victim of sexual abuse and after that sexual abuse, she had no courage to
make up her relations anymore.

“For my family’s part, they don’t question my presence. Awards season came and went, and we
all pretended that my eight-year career never existed. Maybe they’re respecting my privacy, or
maybe they don’t care why I’m here. Maybe I lost that privilege when I moved away, or that first
Christmas I didn’t come home, or maybe it was all the ones after. When I’m being honest
with myself, I understand that I only came back here because I knew it would be like this or that.
much as I don’t know how to ask for anything, my family also wouldn’t know how to give it to me.
me”(The Comeback, Berman, 2020).

She thinks she shares a very important and unique equation with able, but he introduces her with
his actual face. There is a relationship between them; but it is only Grace who finds it pure and
special, Able abused her mentally and sexually. She is unable to make any equation with anyone
after that certain incident.

“I said I needed to go to the bathroom, but he just looked at me with blank eyes as he forced me
down onto the floor and put his penis in my mouth. I started to choke. Thick saliva dripped
down my chin and my eyes burned with hot, shameful tears. I was staring at a photograph of
Able, Emilia, and the twins were on the desk behind him the whole time. He didn’t even turn it
around. Afterward, I tried to justify what had happened. I’d let him believe that we had a special
relationship because it had benefited me too. I didn’t want to admit that I hadn’t had a choice in
any of it, and even when the disgust eventually flooded every inch of my body, it was an
uninvited, complicated disgust after so many years of believing that his attention meant I was

Every time he accused me of wanting  in him or needing him, or making him act this way, a
A tiny part of me believed him. He’d always warned me that I couldn’t trust myself, and deep
Down there, I knew I never fought back as hard as I could have.”(The Comeback, Berman, 2020).
Edwards et al have summarized an overwhelming amount of scholars’ research performed over
30 years in his 2012 article and all the research results affirm the negative effects of childhood
abuse and trauma. Sexual abuse in childhood paves the way for substance abuse and mental
health problems like depression, anxiety, panic disorder, dissociative disorders, post 32.
traumatic stress disorder PTSD, and personality disorders. Grace Turner’s character is an
amalgam of all these character traits that have been developed out of trauma.

Edwards et al havedrawn upon Freyd’s 1996 betrayal trauma theory which suggests childhood sexual                                                             abuse from a close and the emotionally involved person has far more devastating effects on the victim’s personality as compared to the effects of abuse from a non-related abuser.
The mental pressure of Able on Grace is so immense that she is even afraid in dreams.
She dreams of Able in the room with her, but she couldn’t move or call out because his hands are
around her neck, pinning her down all over again. she sobbed into her pillow until she could hardly
breathe, while the sky lightens around her. She doesn’t know how to be normal, how to stop him.
from sexual abuse.

“I take three pills as soon as I’m home, then I sit on the sofa in the living room, waiting for the
morning to come. When it finally does, the sun casts streaks of white gold across the blue sky.
I have to close the blinds because everything seems too hopeful with them open. It’s Christmas
Eve and this is a city for people who wake up every morning believing that today could be the
day, their life is transformed, not for people like me. I should have known that everything I touch
eventually gets destroyed, like a curse Able handed down to me. The man who both created and
destroyed me. He stands with his back against the doors that lead onto the deck, telling a story to
his crowd of fans. He speaks quietly so that those around him have to lean in toward him to catch
each word. People are drawn to him like this.” (The Comeback, Berman, 2020).

Although, Grace decides that now is the time to let the world know what had her walking away.
stardom. She plans to do this when she presents Able Yorke with his lifetime achievement.
award. The man who made her as well as the same man who tore her down. But she could not
express herself. Ultimately, she decides to live with her secret. It becomes clear to her that
everything is the same as it was back then; she is the same, and that she always will be.


In this study, the theory of Psychoanalysis has been used as a mechanism to find out the
hidden meaning of the novel “The Comeback”, particularly with the character of Grace. In the
same way, we become familiars with the execution of the Trauma theory. Grace faces trauma in
the form of childhood sexual abuse and it impacts the development of her character. So, this
Psychoanalytical Study has traced trauma’s impact on Grace’s character.
Grace is manipulated by the Hollywood director Able Yorke. Because of this trauma, she
went out of control and she became addicted to drugs to escape her life. Immediately one day she
disappeared from the public eye when she was nominated for an award. She spends the year
quietly. This research work has provided an understanding of the Trauma theory from the novel
“The Comeback” protagonist as well as learning the concept of psychoanalysis and how it
relates to literature. In the second place, it explores the execution of psychoanalysis.
theory on the literary text of the Grace character by exploring the unknown and hidden
perspective of Grace Character employing the trauma theory. The interrogation of this research is
the justification of how childhood sexual abuse and its aftereffects impact the development of
Grace’s character and more particularly to what extent the sexual abuse of the protagonist
shows her abnormal behavior, So, this dissertation has provided a comprehensive understanding
of psychoanalysis as well as trauma theory under the observation of the Berman’s novel The
Come back.

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2022-09-02 09:37:54

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