Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion


Julia is described as having a mind “too exhausted to serve her properly” and she goes about her motherly tasks “mechanically,” longing only for “Sleep—Sleep—Sleep.” Despite her exhaustion, Julia can still perform her duties technically and efficiently while suffering from sleep deprivation. . . .  Julia is saved by her mother-in-law, who takes over care of the baby and encourages Julia to return to her musical career. Julia Gordins is a prime example of such a woman being denied social liberties. Perpetual housework exhausts her so much that she has no time to focus on her career as a music teacher. Moreover, her time is consumed by managing both her son and her poorly performing maid. Only once she is freed from those obligations, and is able to rest herself effectively each night, is she able to pursue her career.

Julia's sleep-deprivation and subsequent suicide attempt brings to mind Anton Chekhov's 1888 short story "Sleepy," in which a teenage servant suffers from sleeplessness as she is forced to care for her master's baby. After days and nights of no sleep, the young woman begins to hallucinate and concludes that she must "Kill the baby" in order to "sleep, sleep, sleep."

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