Writing, reading, watching, listening.

Writing, reading, watching, listening.
Life In : Recommendations, my own creations, and a place for a conversation.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Writing about This Body and the Other: Corporeality in Three Contemporary Novels and a Short Story Collection by Women

I realize there are many questions to deal with once I turn my attention to difference, social fragmentation and multi-ethnicity in regard to the situation of minority, immigrant, exiled, or otherwise underprivileged women. So, my challenge is to investigate how doubly-marginalized women are affected by gender-related concepts referring to the body, and what are the specific issues with which they deal. 
Since I love literature and maybe even understand the world through it, I am going to analyze female characters’ relationships with and through their bodies and their corporeal manifestations of suffering, pleasure, resistance, acceptance or overcoming problems. I want to analyze the characters’ different conflicts and quests -- whether for freedom, self-acceptance, equal rights or peace, among others -- in order to point out any possible social and personal transformations. 
If anyone has anything to discuss and contribute, I'd be happy to open the conversation! 
I am wondering about entering with Jewish immigrants fiction-I feel a connection to it. The books and the stories I'll probably use are these:
            Property
Valerie Martin, a white author from the U.S.A., describes the state of women as possessions at the time of slavery in the United States. Martin offers an original slant in her dive into a white female slave-owner’s psyche and situation as she tells her life story, interweaving it with her relationships with her black female slave. While the character tries to release herself from the greedy possession of her husband’s hold, she is unaware of repeating the pattern of ownership and property in her own connection with the black woman. We learn about both women only through her eyes, and the gap between what she tells and what the reader can read out of it is more meaningful than the related facts.
            At the Full and Change of the Moon:
The neo-slave narrative written by the Canadian author Dionne Brand, born in the Caribbean, is the story of a Trinidadian slave and her descendants. This tale of diaspora accompanies the family from Trinidad to Amsterdam in the twentieth century. The novel begins in 1802 when a female slave leads a mass suicide revolt, releasing from it only her daughter, and dies tortured yet realized. The relationships of the daughter with her own children and the way she leads her life involve memory, pain, hope, and unconventional behavior that mark the future of the family. As in Property the author mixes historical data with fiction.
            On Beauty 
 Zadie Smith, an English author, the daughter of a Jamaican mother and an English father, writes about the intertwined lives of two families. The family living in the U.S.A consists of a white Englishman, his African-American wife, and their three children. The other family, husband, wife and two children, are Trinidadians living in England. Both men are academics and rivals. The families end up living in the same town in the USA, and the women become close and change the families’ relationships. Interracial relationships, culture gaps, the academy and its effect on the characters’ lives bring out the difference and the sameness in the characters’ expectations and the way they perceive themselves and the world.
The Interpreter of Maladies
            Jhumpa Lahiri, born in India and living in the United States, introduces relationships involving ethnicity, class, postcolonial issues, and stereotypes. In the story “Sexy” a white woman from Boston has an affair with an Indian man and a friendly relationship with an Indian female co-worker. A parallel line of infidelity stretches between the story of the co-worker’s cousin’s failed marriage and the affair the Bostonian has with the Indian man. In “The Treatment of Bibi Haldar” a young Indian woman, employed and exploited by her wealthy cousin and husband, becomes sick. While the community puts a pressure to marry her, the couple refuses to let her go. When they end-up shunning her, out of fear for their baby, she becomes pregnant from an unknown man and is fully recovered.
I hope to speak about the bodily issue involved in the women's perception of their selves. There is more to say, but I'll do it in another post.

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