“The Joy of Contrition” is a rather self-indulgent little story. I spend almost six thousand words describing six strokes of a cane. Seldom does a pornographer use so many words to describe so little action. I doubt that many readers get off on this story, even if they really like caning scenes. Sorry.
I wanted to experiment with a technique that another author, Lee Scarlet, used in a story posted on Literorica.com. He passed the point of view from one character to another in a continuous narrative rather than inserting section breaks.
In “The Joy of Contrition”, I have two characters, Caroline and Rory, who pass the point of view back and forth during a caning. The point of view passes from Caroline to Rory when she asks for a stroke and passes back to her when he strikes her.
When she has the point of view, she thinks about why she needs to be severely punished. She uses it to justify her unethical behavior. She is a university professor who has seduced a student. Because the punishment causes severe pain, she feels properly contrite. But, paradoxically, this frees her to continue her unethical behavior. Not only continue, but escalate both the affair and the punishment in a vicious cycle.
When punishment absolves guilt, it can fail to correct behavior, not only for a masochist like Caroline, but in general. This story can be taken as a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks that punishment is a universal solution to social problems.
When Rory has the point of view, the reader sees that he has an entirely different understanding of Caroline’s need to be caned. He knows nothing of her affair with the student. He has the simplistic and incorrect idea that Caroline, as a masochist, likes pain and feels pleasure when he strikes her. He is not an innate sadist and needs this rationale to justify hurting her. But the rationale works too well. He takes her at her word that he should strike her as hard as he can. Harder than a woman should be struck with a cane. Hard enough to cause permanent scarring. Yet, she cannot tell him to moderate his strokes because that would deprive her of what she needs.
Both partners believe, not only that they understand each other, but that they share the same understanding. The reader, having been given both points of view, should see that they completely misunderstand each other.
But, their mutual misunderstanding makes them compatible. Each serves the other’s needs perfectly. One can ask if Rory and Caroline have an emotional understanding that overrides their rational misunderstanding.
Despite their mutual need, I believe that their relationship is doomed. It cannot last much longer because they are caught in a vicious circle that is already spiralling out of control. Eventually they will be pushed to the point that their emotional bond will break. We can only hope that their relationship ends with a whimper and not an explosion of unrestrained violence.