عنوان مقاله [English]
This paper analyzes the representation of gender relations in the novel Lullaby for the dead girl. Using Van Leeuwen’s (2008) approach to critical discourse analysis, the paper investigates how the roles of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters inside and outside of the family are represented. Different patterns of authority and gender identity will emerge from the analysis of three families depicted in the novels: (1) male domination combined with suppressed gender identity; (2) post-patriarch authority combined with passive gender identity, and (3) traditional patriarch authority combined with backgrounded gender identity. Women, in these family types are, respectively, suppressed, passive and backgrounded; men are dominating, liberal and patriarchal. The novel represents the socio-cultural discourses in specific period of contemporary Iran with all the discursive conflicts of tradition, modernity, poverty and justice. Power is active and streams among the discourses. Power reconstructs the inter-discourses meaning. Also, power includes the modernity and justice discourses; and excludes the poverty and tradition discourses within the economic and cultural concepts. Power, also, represents the ideology of patriarchy and male dominance within the cultural context of the novel.
This study examines how gender relationship’s roles and identities are represented in Iranian adolescent novel Lullaby for the dead girl written by Hamidreza Shahabadi (2009). The purpose is to analyze the roles of fathers and mothers, as well as their relationship with their family members in Iranian society. Studies of language and gender (e.g., Baxter, 2003; Cameron, 2005; Mills, 2008; Sunderland, 2004) have often conceptualized language as a critical means for constructing or deconstructing gender in diverse ways. However, little attention has been paid to cultural differences in this regard. This study examines gender relationships in families as well as the role and identity of individuals inside and outside the family. In other words, this study focuses on social actors in families with an emphasis on the formative influence of the social and cultural context.
This study is based on the descriptive- analytical method. Using Van Leeuwen’s social actor analysis (2008) to explore the identity and the role of the members of each (three) families, leading to the identification of three models of authority and identity. The differences between these models are explained with a focus on social actors. Finally, the social construction of these models is discussed. This research focuses on the adolescent novel, Lullaby for the dead girl, by Hamid Reza Shah-Abadi comprising three families depicted in the novels: (1) male domination combined with suppressed gender identity, (2) post-patriarch authority combined with passive gender identity, and (3) traditional patriarch authority combined with backgrounded gender identity. This novel alternates between the present and the period of Iran's Constitutional Revolution and the formation of the first National Assembly of Iran in 1906, which was a landmark in the history of Iran. This time fusion has significant implications. Iran’s Constitutional Revolution, which moved the country from authoritarian rule to constitutional monarchy, crystallizes the discourse of freedom and rule of law, achieved through the efforts of liberal elites and people fed up with the atrocities of the despotic monarchy. The social-political context depicted in the historical part of the work is related to present-day political-social developments.
Critical Discussion Of Differences in Three Models of Authority and Identity
How has Van Leeuwen’s framework for analyzing the representation of social actors helped understand these models of authority and gender identity?
Role determination has been a significant issue. All male actors in relation to other actors in the social context of families have been portrayed as active. In contrast, female agents have been represented as suppressed, and in the third model as passive in relation to male actors.
The identity of female actors in the first model is determined by actions such as doing housework, cooking, washing men’s clothes and bringing up girls with her style while in relation to the husband, they are portrayed with the technique of suppression. In the third model, female agents have been passively represented.
Fathers have been represented in three distinct ways. In the first model, they are primarily represented by means of physical identification. In the second model through functionalization and in the third model through classification. Considering that the description of physical features can refer to implicit concepts (Van Leeuwen, 2008), the physical identification in the first model connotes power, authority and dominance, and the father’s role. Based on descriptions provided in the text, father has an absolute power in the family context, who makes decisions, even for other family members, any complaint against which would lead to exclusion and rejection. The father in the second model is represented with an emphasis on functions such as participation, empathy and harmony among other actors in the small social context of the family.
The father in the third model is represented with a combination of positive functions such as his kind connection with his children, being worried for his family members and some negative actions such as making decision for the family.
Type allocation is another technique used for representing prominent differences between social actors in the three discussed models. In this regard, male actors are distinct from female actors in the first model (individualization), whereas in the second model they are assimilated and collectivized as a single, united group, with all family members having relatively identical roles. In the third model, genericization is at work, portraying the father as a prototypical patriarch and linking him to other patriarchal male actors. The male actor is here the decision-maker inside and outside the house, and the economic leader who determines the role of other members in the family, trying to legitimize his decisions with various reasons that are regarded as valid in the traditions of the culture. In all three models, the female actors are portrayed as active in domestic work while the male actors work outside the home.
In the first and third model, the father is the superior power who takes responsibility for both the domestic and the outside affairs of the family. Also, in the first model, the male actor is represented as associated with other men, and differentiated from the women in the family. In the second model, however, family members are all associated, and not differentiated (inclusion).
The mother's identity in the first model has been represented in terms of physical identification and functionalization. Her physical identity has been negatively represented, and the emphasis has been on her function as a mother and housekeeper who aims at satisfying the needs of the male family members. In the second model, the mother is represented through the technique of functionalization with an emphasis on her maternal function and on attributes such as compassion, kindness, responsibility and caring for children. However, this function has been backgrounded in the third model.
The daughter has been represented differently in the three models. In the first model, she is portrayed through the technique of passivation by family members and suppression by the father on the one hand, and activation in relation to friends and peers, on the other hand. In the second model the daughter is represented as actively and dynamically engaged with all other family members. In the third model, the daughter is activated in relation to her peers and suppressed in the domestic environment.
In all three models, differentiation is a key factor in describing the daughters’ identities. In the first model, power, authority and domination belong to male figures and female actors are marginalized and suppressed by male actors. In protest to existing conditions and in an attempt to free herself from discrimination and gain freedom, she leaves the family. In the second model, male and female actors are associated. They all adopt identical roles and functions. Unfair boundaries, discrimination and coercion give way to participation and assimilation, and negotiation replace conflict. In connection to the daughter in the third model, gender differentiation is visible in the context of society as a whole, where women are a male property that can be sold whereas in this model acceptance partially replaces the protest. As if the father decisions are the only best way to survive.
In another framework of identity expression, the daughter in the second model and the parent actors in the first and third models are over-determined through a variety of techniques such as inversion, deviation and connotation. The daughter in the first model is the symbol of today’s generation. She protests against her mother’s view of female roles and female identity and critiques her compliance and obedience to her husband. That is, she protests against the role defined for her in the traditional context. The past generation here remains committed to traditional culture and imitation of previous generations and the new generation rejects this and seeks to live according to its own standards, rather than those of the patriarchal system. In the second model, the prevailing justice and freedom discourses give actors the right to freely and openly and not implicitly express their criticism. In other words, in this family, conflict has been replaced by negotiation. Connotation is an important over-determination factor in the novel as a whole. The representation of the ‘dead girl’ in the mirror implies the persistent pain of confusion of female identity in patriarchal societies from the past to the present. This confusion of gender identity, gender discrimination, and patriarchal authority is reconstructed over time in various social and historical contexts.
The research has shown that the portrayal of authority and gender identities in Iranian stories representing families is based on three models which has been affected of the various types of families in Iranian society. In the model of patriarchal authority and suppressed gender identity, men are in control and determine the role of women. The stories realize this through the techniques of gender differentiation and individualization into the two poles of “us” and “them”. We have called this model of authority and gender identity “patriarchal - male dominated”. It portrays patriarchal dominance and the suppression of female identity and represents women as obedient and compliant in serving the needs and desires of men. Women then seek to transfer this model to the next generation through the way they raise their children. In other words, the socialization of children in patriarchal families results in the reproduction of the system in future generations. Girls learn to follow in their mother’s footsteps and boys look up to their powerful fathers as their role models. In societies where authority, power and conflict dominate the public sphere, this domination system can be found in the family as well. The contradictions between the traditional patriarchal-male dominated system and the equality system can give rise to confusion, identity conflict, family tension, and social conflict.
In the ‘male liberal authority and female active gender identity’ model, men play a role both inside and outside the family. Although the woman is still home-bound, she plays a more active role and does not merely performing daily routine activities. Also, although the man is represented as the economic leader of the family, the woman is not merely at his service, but also involved in personal and individual activities. In this model, justice, freedom, support, compassion and encouragement partially replace power, domination, humiliation, violence and punishment and children experience a cooperative environment, based on negotiation, gender equality and freedom. It is an environment that empowers them to manifest their abilities and identity in a dynamic and constructive manner instead of suppressing them, so that in the face of difficulties and conflicts, they can refer to them as a deterring and preserving force. Societies in which the discourse of justice and freedom in the true sense of the word prevails, and in which the relation between the state and the citizen is characterized by interaction, smaller communities can be based on the same concepts.
In the third model, i.e. the ‘dominant patriarchy and passive female gender identity’ model, the father continues to have patriarchal power over both the male and the female members of the family, and he still determines the role of all family members in all domestic and outside affairs. But in this model, patriarchy is not necessarily dominant, though children under the influence of this model will continue to follow it in the future. Women may be subordinated to their husbands, but they are not suppressed or marginalized.
Children in this model also have a passive and receptive role and are required to perform duties assigned to them by the superior power of the family. Since in this model, there is interaction between the father and children and they receive emotional support of father in some circumstances, the contradiction between authority and compassion can make young children confused with regard to their gender identity. That is, on the one hand, they see themselves deprived of any authority and domination, choice, decision and understanding and on the other hand, compassion makes them committed to this dominance.
All three models portray authority and identity in the history of societies which are subject to constant change and reconstruction. In fact, they are the outcome of the culture and politics of these societies, which can then, through stories of this kind, play an active role in the formation of adolescent gender identity. The models and the manner of their representation in influential and widely read texts such as adolescent fiction can be pivotal in shaping socio-cultural and family models that are based on cooperation, activation, role-assignment and equality.