Post-reading Discussion:

When I Hit You

Atlantic Books, 2018. 249 pages. Paperback version.

Notable Scenes & Passages:

65: “What prevents a woman from walking out of an abusive relationship?”


95: “To play the role of the still, passive and submissive woman day after day leaves a woman in a relationship with the ceiling, not her man.”


98: “So, you now mentally recompose the scene of me. But please don’t choose one of a battered wife--that’s an image that will brand itself on your mind, and the longer you think of it, the more impossible it will become for you to relate to me, to love me naturally. You will then love me like a scar loves a wound and I deserve something more.”


122: “Love is not blind; it just looks in the wrong places.”


138: “He can be kind, I know he can, I’ve seen how tender he is with the homeless boys in town, but with me I know that he will always choose to be cruel.”


155: “The fear that he seeks to instill in me is never the actual act itself, but the fear of where the act can lead to. What I see is what I am made to foresee.”


158: “All change is slow. A marriage is not magic. You will have to give him time. He will come around.” -The narrator’s mother responding to the narrator’s concerns about her abusive marriage.


249: “I am the woman conjured up to take on the life of a woman afraid of facing her own reality.”

Questions (Revisited)
  • Earlier portions of the book cover the courting phase of the narrator’s relationship with her eventual husband. Does the narrator note any worrisome behaviors or tendencies that may have served as warnings of the horrors to come? If so, does she give some kind of justification for her concerns in order to keep the relationship going?


  • Besides physical violence and intimidation, what types of emotional and psychological abuse does the narrator’s husband inflict on her? What are her immediate responses? When/how does she come to conclusion that she needs to leave her husband?


  • Kandasamy’s text highlights many societal and cultural barriers to escaping a broken or abusive marriage. What are some of the obstacles and challenges the narrator must overcome in order to free herself from a dangerous marriage? Why is it so hard for her to gain sympathy from others in her community, including her own parents?


  • How do state and other large institutions (law enforcement, the judicial system, the university, etc.) fail the female narrator and frustrate her quest for freedom from a despotic husband?


  • This fictional memoir presents a dualism between the person who actually experiences the abuse and the authorial figure who tells the story about the abuse. Would you find this distancing technique to be effective, if writing about your own troubling or traumatic experiences? By writing about trauma, are you merely reliving it or are you reimagining it?