Women, Animals and Violence: Anita Desai’s Fire on the Mountain and Lee Yew Leong’s “Honey, I’m Off To Be A Jellyfish Now”

Gurpreet Kaur

Abstract


This paper looks at Anita Desai’s novel Fire on the Mountain and Lee Yew Leong’s short story “Honey, I’m Off To Be A Jellyfish Now” in a comparative manner using the framework of materialist postcolonial ecofeminism. I argue that the “other” in the form of women and animals are centred in both the novel and short story, although both women and animals are removed and distanced from society. These writers, through their stories, rework issues of violence, women and animals that are otherwise usually presented from a male point of view. The woman becomes the mediator through which animals can be read. In turn, the identity politics and relationships between men and women are mediated through the figure of the animal. I show that the position of ambivalence is important when discussing the protagonists in both the stories. Within the culture/nature binary, these women neither belong to the cultural sphere nor the natural sphere. They straddle the binary in-between, thus showing their ambivalence to both the culture/nature constructs. There is no romantic or celebratory linking of the woman to nature or animals that puts them in inferiorised positions. Within this framework, the question of violence—towards both women and animals—is key.

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@Journal of Ecocriticism. ISSN 1916-1549