Thursday, September 30, 2010
Domination, Even Before Colonization Occurs
In J.M. Coetzee's In the Heart of the Country, colonization is thought to be the power struggle that occurs. This, however, does not seem to be the first case of a dominant force ruling over a submissive body within the novel. Early in the book, the narrator describes the relationship between her mother and father, where her father clearly is the only one to represent power: "My father's first wife, my mother, was a frail gentle loving woman who lived and died under her husband's thumb. Her husband never forgave her for failing to bear him a son" (Coetzee 2). Two major instances (specifically dynamics) of power are presented here, the first being the power that the father has over the narrator's mother. Due to the extreme stresses the narrator's mother faced as being a wife, including excess amounts of sexual demands, she becomes too frail and fragile to live any longer. There is also the instance of "failing to bear him a son," speaking to the dynamic of (more broadly than the first dynamic) men and women in this context. This speaks to the concept of "double colonization," where women not only face oppression as the colonized but also face general discrimination as women. The narrator's father does not want daughters because only a son would make a worthy "boy-heir," showing the type of gender hegemony that is present within this society. In this hegemony, of course, the women are subaltern, meaning they are the inferior group that cannot enter into the group of power.