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Veiled DesiresIntimate Portrayals of Nuns in Postwar Anglo-American Film$
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Maureen Sabine

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251650

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251650.001.0001

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Subjective Desires

Subjective Desires

The Role of the Catholic Family Romance in The Nun's Story (1959)

Chapter:
(p.109) 3 Subjective Desires
Source:
Veiled Desires
Author(s):

Maureen Sabine

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823251650.003.0004

Chapter 3 focuses exclusively on The Nun's Story, a film which still polarizes viewers more than fifty years after its debut. Feminist cultural critics have found it especially hard to sympathize with the inner spiritual drama of the film's conflicted protagonist Sister Luke or appreciate the all-time great film performance of Audrey Hepburn; and this chapter suggests that their animus stems from political hostility to the nun's struggles with the religious vow of unquestioning obedience. It argues that the nun has internalized an alternative code of obedience deriving from the history of her Catholic family romance, that is to say, her lifelong devotion to a loving and approving doctor father, and her core desire to emulate him professionally. It details the conflict Sister Luke experiences between her original family romance and the Catholic romance of the cloister with its surrogate family structure, and between her professional desire to do the nursing work she loves in the Congo and her religious desire to become the perfect nun her order wants her to be.

Keywords:   The Nun's Story, Audrey Hepburn, Feminist critical debate, The vow of obedience, The Catholic family romance, The surrogate family cloister, Conflicting desires, Work and love

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