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4 - Telling the Truth and The Wrong/ED Man

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 February 2024

Gary McCarron
Affiliation:
Simon Fraser University, British Columbia
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Summary

I have now undertaken, in my eighty-third year, to tell you my personal myth. I can only make direct statements, only “tell stories.” Whether or not the stories are ‘true’ is not the problem. The only question is whether what I tell is my fable, my truth.

– Carl Jung

A life story does not consist simply of a collection of facts or incidents. It also requires sequence, since from sequence causality can be inferred; and notions like causality, accident, and reasons are crucial in shaping the meaning of a life story.

– Charlotte Linde

Looking back is sometimes amusing – and sometimes humiliating. It is not a thing I care to do as a rule.

– Alfred Hitchcock

A Childish Prisoner

Throughout the course of his life, Alfred Hitchcock enjoyed telling interviewers about the time he was locked in a jail cell at the behest of his father.

The incident was prompted by an act of misbehaviour that itself is a subject of speculation, but from most accounts it was of so trifling a nature that in later years Hitchcock said that he could not recall with certainty what he had done to upset his parents. Whether the offense was grave or not was of little concern to Alfred's father, however, for William Hitchcock's idea of discipline was tinged with Edwardian notions of strict parental duty and in consequence of Alfred's misconduct he resolved to teach his young son a lesson. Having composed a message for the on-duty officer, William sent young Alfred off to the local police station with instructions to hand the note to the officer. The policeman read the memo, and then escorted Alfred to the cellblock where he locked the boy in for several minutes before releasing him with an ominous warning: “This is what we do to naughty boys.” Hitchcock said the trauma of that moment of sham incarceration accounted for many of his lifelong anxieties, especially those regarding the police.

The story has the earmarks of a typical Hitchcock narrative with its unflattering portrayal of the police, its depiction of the innocent subject caught in the grip of heartless institutional forces, and its representation of justice as unfeeling in its instrumentality.

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Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2023

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