The lecture Rosemary attends that day stays in her memory forever. The course is named Religion and Violence, and it is taught by a popular professor called Dr. Sosa, who begins the lecture by discussing violent women. Suddenly, Dr. Sosa switches to talking about chimpanzees, who, like humans, participate in intra-group violence and police the sexual activity of females. Dr. Sosa points out that “the only difference” is that chimps do not do so for religious reasons. As Dr. Sosa continues to talk about rape among chimps, Rosemary begins to have another panic attack.
Rosemary’s repression of all memories of Fern has caused such a profound psychological imbalance within her that she now has a panic attack any time something makes her think of Fern suffering (or confuses her conception of the animal/human divide—here, with the idea that chimps can be just as brutal and cruel as humans). The idea that repressing memories will lead to neurosis is one of the key tenets of psychoanalysis, and thus Rosemary’s father’s disdain for psychoanalysis can be partially blamed for his daughter’s increasingly unstable mental state.
Rosemary explains that just because she hasn’t had any friends up until this point in her life doesn’t mean she hasn’t had sex. However, she remains unsure about what constitutes a “normal” sex life. The first time she had sex was in the bathroom at a frat party. Rosemary admits that she’s had a lot of “bad sex,” but that she’s also lucky to have never been forced into sex she didn’t want. Back in the lecture hall, a discussion breaks out among the students about whether having more sex would lead to a peaceful society, or whether peace requires men leaving women alone and there being an increase in “female solidarity.” By the time the lecture ends, Rosemary is still “profoundly, heart-racingly upset.”
Rosemary’s mind operates through cycles of tangents. It is rare for her to stick to the central topic being addressed in a given scene; instead, she bounces between related topics, weaving seemingly disparate ideas together. The lecture on violent women and discussion of chimpanzee violence thus forms the basis of Rosemary’s consideration of what normalcy really means. This in turn highlights the complex connection between violence, social norms, and the human/animal divide.