Mario Županović

University of Zadar - Department of Hispanic and Iberian Studies
Zadar, Croatia

INDECS 17(2-A), 294-303, 2019
DOI 10.7906/indecs.17.2.6
Full text available here.

Received: 1st April 2019.
Accepted: 11th June 2019.
Regular article


Claudia Llosa's seminal work The Milk of Sorrow (La Teta Asustada) is a Peruvian feature from 2009 that has been widely analysed and scrutinized. It deals with very intriguing topic of trauma and self-inflicted oppression of a young indigenous woman in contemporary Peru. The task in this research was to elaborate and display how the personal trauma of the female, a victim of rape committed by the Peruvian guerrilla and paramilitary is transmitted onto her daughter and what are the consequences of that transmission. Another goal was to show case how the narrative structure of the film is overlapped by psychological narration unspoken in film, but evident to the viewer through the over amplified presence of the symbolism and through the protagonist's inner state of mind. The narrative is built upon an indigenous belief that the evil of the rapist transmits through mother's milk and that it can only be understood when a subject becomes aware of its own pre-traumatizing experience. This is exemplified by iconological and symbolic usage of the potato, which the protagonist Fausta inserts into her vagina. She does so in order to shield herself from the transmitting of the evil, but the potato inevitably becomes a trigger/safety of her traumatizing existence. The real narrative is thus border by the potato insertion and finally by the potato being removed from the protagonists genitals. Frame and montage analysis of the strategies employed by Llosa reveals that the visual and symbolic content of The Milk of Sorrow narrates the trauma in the unique way that has influenced feminist filmmakers in the Latin America to approach the taboo topics like rape and incest from different perspectives. At the same time, the trauma narrative produces ambiguity that has led the scholars to complete opposition in their analysis, and precisely this ambiguity is the raison d'étre of this research.

iconology, rape, trauma, transmission, symbolism

JEL:D83, D84

This is the official web site of the Scientific Journal INDECS.
Questions, comments and suggestions please send to:
Last modified: 20 June 2016.