dimecres, 12 de febrer de 2014

SETTING IN "FOE" by J. M. Coetzee


The postcolonial framework turns out to be crucial to understand the differences that colonialism established between First and Third World countries.
The colonies were regarded as trading freight that could be bought and sold and whose only function was to contribute to the metropolis's economic and territorial expansion.
From a feminist point of view:
-          these settlements epitomised the female powerlessness as opposed to the patriarchal domination represented by the empire.
-           These colonial territories, like women, were subdued to the male/imperial authority, which usually took the form of rape or physical harassment.
-          This feminised version of the colony facilitated the attribution of all the sterotypes that were traditionally associated to women, weakness, sentimentality and dependence.
-          The colony was forced to occupy a secondary and marginalised position and to assume its voicelessness, a stance that native women were forced to acknowledge on a daily basis.
The colonial environment was traditionally regarded as exotic, mysterious and unexplored, which justified the conquest of lands in the name of the empire:
-          This exoticism drew the attention of the explorers , whose devastation of the colonial soil was taken as an exercise of patriotism.
-           Once they took over the land, the next stage was to set up a private space in which only the colonial administrators could have access to, which helped them to be cut off from any contact with the native population and to widen the differences between the two groups.
-           This is reflected in Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe", whose protagonist establishes an economic and working system that turns out to be a direct transposition of the British counterpart.
-          However, Cruso's emerges as its parodic reversal, since the exoticism in Defoe's novel turns into an impoverished and desolate setting in "Foe":
·         Such a depressing scenario reflects upon Britain's moral emptiness.
·          Cruso's "un-colonial" conscience deactivates the impulse of expanding his domain and triggers a conformist attitude in the character.
·         This explains why silence emerges as a distinctive trait of the island and why Susan's internal monologues occupy significant sections in "Foe"'s first two chapters.
·         Cruso's decision to remain silent most of the time can also be interpreted as another mechanism to interfere in the expansion of the colonial ideology through discourse.
With Susan Barton's return to Britain, the setting moves from the colonies to the metropolis, which she considers a way back to civilisation:
-          There is a great deal of postcolonial works that depict the difficult transition undergone by the immigrant who abandons his hometown in search of better economic and working opportunities in Europe or in USA, to leave a past of poverty and marginalisation behind and enjoy the advantages of the West.
-          Once they arrive at their destination, they realise that their expectations of rapid social and economic improvement clash with an environment that excludes them due to racial or gender prejudices.
-          Thus, their experience in the metropolis turns out to be a succession of disappointments that end up frustrating the immigrants' initial expectations.
-           In Susan's case, the situation is doubly ironic because, although she belongs to the mainstream, she approaches her return as if she were an emigrant. After a depondent year on the island, she looks forward to arriving in Britain in order to start a successful career as a novelist and to experiment the privileges that western, First world countries supposedly confer upon their citizens.
-           However, her arrival in England proves to be disheartening because:
·         She has difficulty locating Foe
·          London  is not the glittering and luxurious city she had imagined.
·          The riches she dreams of turn into homelessness, destitution and loneliness in London.
-          Contrary to the island, London seems to represent verbosity and communication, although what Susan encounters is a city in which personal interaction is practically non-existent.
-           Thus, the narration carries on focusing on Susan's interior monologues, which again gives an idea of the absence of dialogue or whatever form of intercommunication.

-           This lack of communication points at symbolical issues that go beyond the literary realm to find a parallel in how the bilateral relationships "North-South/East-West" have been traditionally configured. Here, Susan and Friday represent these two opposite realities and the South African situation lived under "apartheid", in which the black population was systematically silenced by the white authorities.