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Toughness Narrative

  • Initial event: Can be any crime; no description of the crime is needed.
  • Key features: Depict crime and punishment as a battle or war (although the audience need not fear the enemy because it is under control); celebrate punishment as a display of strength; employ masculine scripts of boldness and bravery in the face of danger; will often engage in prison promotionalism (prison life portrayed as tough but also ‘safe’); invite audience to find ‘amusement’ in the pains of imprisonment.
  • Narrative conclusion: A commitment to harsh punishment becomes an expression of toughness, strength and boldness in the face of threat.

However, while the stories Texas tells about punishment do employ the masculine scripts of combat, toughness and boldness, and they also portray Texas as having a commitment to harsh punishment, this is not to suggest that the sites visited depict Texan punishment in the present as excessive. This is particularly interesting when we recall the ways in which cultural outsiders often depict Texas and Texans. As the next chapter will reveal, the stories Texas tells about how it punishes are actually those in which punishment is harsh but also civilised.

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