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“It is not wholly as I imagined it would be”: Discussing on the Problem of Female Character’s Representation and Appropriation of Male Space in J. M. Coetzee’s Foe

  • Journal of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • 2021, 78(3), pp.47-83
  • DOI : 10.17326/jhsnu.78.3.202108.47
  • Publisher : Institute of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : July 26, 2021
  • Accepted : August 15, 2021
  • Published : August 31, 2021

Oh Ye Ji 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Agreeing with Gayatri Spivak’s critique on the novel, this paper argues that the female character in Foe, Susan Barton, tries to appropriate men’s spaces. As the author of her own writing and herself as a character, Susan seeks to rewrite her social identity and narratively reenacts the rooms of male characters. She repeatedly represents the room that belongs to Foe, a ghostwriter who writes her book, Female Castaway. Susan’s desire for male space is documented in Chapters 1 and 2 by borrowing the forms of British novels, such as travel narratives and epistolary novels, respectively. By making her private experiences into her authoritative works, Susan can appropriate Foe’s room as a writer and explore a new identity within England society. However, Susan’s appropriation has an aspect of complicity in the imperialist project in the act of adapting her personal experiences into literature. As Edward Said argues, in the narrative, including novel forms, the actual occupation of the territory, the issue of his ownership, and even future plans are determined. In this context, the novel recounts the reality that Susan’s writing and her efforts to take ownership of space need a male reader to approve her experience and a man to lend his name to have social meaning and impact. The novel finds the possibility of transcending the limitations of Susan as a writer/narrator who is complicit in imperialism through the anonymous narrator in Chapter 4. Through the final scene of two visits to Friday’s home, the novel finds a space to listen to the unspoken experiences that remain on the body by describing or gesturing towards the other through the language of silence and sense rather than the written/voice language.

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