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Date 2021-03-18


Imagining the Body and Constructing the Masculine Subject in the War Narratives of Cong Hei Ye Dao Tian Ming and Xiao Ying Xiong Yu Lao You Chai


Wu, Mei-Ying

Associate Professor, The Department of Taiwanese Literature, National Cheng Kung University


Drawing on Judith Butler’s body theory and R. W. Connell’s theory on men’s bodies, among others, this paper aims to explore the complex and dynamic discourse and representation of body images, as well as the construction of the masculine subject, in the war narratives of Cong Hei Ye Dao Tian Ming (From Darkness to Dawn, 1968) and Xiao Ying Xiong Yu Lao You Chai (The Little Hero and The Old Mailman, 1993). It is argued that the masculine subject constructed and/or negotiated in and through the textual discourse, in particular, in the representations of various body images, in the two paradigmic texts of the war narratives for young readers is replete with multiple significations and sometimes contradictory and/or ambivalent implications. To be more specific, the masculine subject constructed in the juvenile fiction of war is not to be taken as unitary, static, and in a state of naturalness and obviousness, but possibly dubious, ambiguous, contradictory and multi-faceted. For instance, the boy protagonist in Cong Hei Ye Dao Tian Ming is framed in a double image of toughness and tenderness; whereas, the boy protagonist in Xiao Ying Xiong Yu Lao You Chai is one oscillating from the image of a wild, naughty, and delinquent boy to a model hero worthy of respect and praise. Another example is the substantial contrast between the masculine body in valiant action and the demised, deformed, disabled, and thus alienated male bodies. In a word, the mobility and the complexity of gender significations of the masculine subject are operative and significantly constructed in and through the body discourse of the war narratives for the young.

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Bulletin of Taiwanese Literature