The Glass Cell

The Glass Cell by Patricia Highsmith is about a man who is wrongly imprisoned. Once released, he has trouble readjusting to his life due to both the traumatic experiences of prison and his growing suspicion that his wife has been having an affair with a lawyer who worked on his case.

The outward manifestation of the change that prison has inflicted on the protagonist is his thumbs. In the opening scene, shortly after entering prison, the protagonist is strung up by his thumbs by prison guards. This leaves him with deformed hands and constant pain (which he regulates with morphine, also distancing him from his former life).

The hands in this image can represent many aspects of the story at once. They can be the torture he experienced, and the resulting injury. But they can also be hands of a person communicating defense or surrender (read the book to see where these come in).

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