From Wreck to Rebirth: Female Survivors in Joyce Carol Oates’ Late Novels

Anand, Aswathi Velayathikode (2017) From Wreck to Rebirth: Female Survivors in Joyce Carol Oates’ Late Novels. Masters thesis, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad.

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Abstract

Female protagonists in Joyce Carol Oates’ late novels are characterized by their resilience and fortitude that helps them survive lives invariably marred by violence inflicted either within domestic settings or from the world at large, or both. Oates’ representation of female survivors while on the one hand exposes and critiques contemporary American culture, it on the other hand, attests to the novelist’s ameliorating vision for which she has been honored as one of the greatest humanists of our times. My thesis is an attempt to investigate how Oates’ fictional female characters, hailing especially from disenfranchized backgrounds, endure traumatic circumstances and display tremendous psychological resilience to emerge as survivors. By reading select works of fiction, namely, Man Crazy (1997), The Gravedigger’s Daughter (2007) and Little Bird of Heaven (2009) from the inexhaustible Oates canon with the help of feminist and psychoanalytic theories along with Oates’ own non-fiction, in this study I seek to demonstrate how female survivors not only present a compelling critique of American materialism but also valiantly uphold that it is perhaps only the humanistic disposition that can possibly provide an antidote to the violence afflicting the modern world. Notably, the protagonist in each of these works, even after facing grievous atrocities emerges resilient and rises up to challenges and redeems herself. Even as Oates’ fictional female protagonist faces unimaginable trauma and often near-death situations, she always finds means and the courage to circumvent these and is reborn as a powerful individual without allowing the past stymie her hope for a better future. Finally, given Oates’ affirmative sensibility my study argues that the author’s late fiction departs significantly from the naturalistic writing which marks her early career, and by tracing the regeneration of her fictional female protagonists in her late novels, I assert that the novelist reads adversities as moments of transformation that can temper and toughen character instead of destroying it.

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IITH Creators:
IITH CreatorsORCiD
Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: TD854
Subjects: Literature > American literature in English
Divisions: Department of Liberal Arts
Depositing User: Team Library
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2017 11:13
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2017 11:13
URI: http://raiith.iith.ac.in/id/eprint/3332
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