Skeletons Of Men Analysis

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In ‘Skeletons of Men’ and ‘A Woman Like Me’, Enchi Fumiko and Xi Xi explore the construction of a female self and the idea of a female voice within systems that suppress them. With the use of a female narrator and the process of storytelling, the female characters in these texts are given a voice through which their experiences are told indirectly. This alternative channel of communication, despite ultimately still being limited in reach, allows these oppressed women to express their personal self and desires despite the social norms that limit them. The exploration of the female core sense of self is also achieved with the female narrator who provides both the third-person perspective as observer and first-person perspective as a woman to…show more content…
Along with the act of storytelling which serves as the the main vehicle of transmission, the feelings and experiences of female characters are able to be expressed despite the suppression. In ‘Skeletons of Men’, the female narrator herself had heard the stories from Shizuko before taking on the role of the storyteller, while Ritsu ‘had often confided in her daughter about the lifelong torment she suffered because of her husband’s love affairs and self-indulgence’ before her daughter ‘eventually passed these stories on to her own grown daughter, Shizuko’ (p 473). Yet, true to Spivak’s assertion, the ‘subaltern…cannot be heard by the privileged’ - even though the stories are ultimately heard by people who are in one way or another related to the oppressed women, communication still occurs only at the personal level when women who identify with the stories understand and carry on the stories of other women. The role of the female narrator is thus significant; in expanding the audience for the stories of these suppressed women to include the readers, the narrator blurs the line between ‘representing’ these voices and letting them ‘speak for themselves’. In essence, the female narrator of ‘Skeletons of Men’ acts as a loudspeaker that allows these stories to not just be heard, but also…show more content…
As such, her storytelling serves as both the representation of the alienated, unlovable woman’s voice as well as the expression of her own emotions. In addition to being silenced due to her race and gender, the female narrator of ‘A Woman Like Me’ is further marginalized and stigmatized due to her occupation as a mortuary cosmetician in a social environment that fears death and associations with it. It is interesting, however, that she is not entirely unique in her situation, for the title itself suggests that she is in fact part of a community that includes other women like her who are ‘unsuitable for any man’s love’(Xi, 1998: 303). Yet, the lack of a voice and representation for this unique group of alienated, unlovable woman is clear - without the female narrator’s telling of Aunt Yifen’s story, her stories would never have been heard – even before Aunt Yifen had become ‘so uncommunicative’, the only audience for her stories besides the narrator were ‘the cadavers who lay in front of her’ (Xi, 1998:308). As with the case of ‘Skeletons of Men’, while there is communication at a personal level with those who understand and identify with the stories ‘hearing’ the voices of the oppressed women, it is the female narrator in ‘A Woman Like Me’ who provides the platform for the stories of the subaltern to reach the readers from a different time and

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