The Representation of Masculinity and its Reflections in the Short Narrative Discourse of Badriya Al-Beshr

Nidal Al-Shamali

Abstract


The short stories of the Saudi writer Badriya Al-Beshr focus on her constructive criticism of conventional social power that governs society. This is actually the most obvious feature of her short story collection that was published in 1993 and the other two collections, “Wednesday Evening” (1994) and “Cardamom” (2004). Social power, as Badriya Al-Beshr shows, is best demonstrated in different representations of masculinity which the researcher believes to be the key to understand intertextuality of the text and its deconstructive features. In this context, Al-Beshr faces usurpation by a counter usurpation; a usurpation through writing fiction which deprives her imaginative narrative of the usual masculine discourse. The writer has represented masculinity as a general, distorted, feature that resorts towards negative attitudes, absolute control, deprivation, disability and corruption. This extremity resulted in much complexity that is deeply rooted in the social mentality. This has deepened the ideas of absolute power and controlling discourse which are based on the concept of masculine representation as a usurpation of the other and a limiting of its presence. These ideas and the concepts they have produced have indeed generated a stable cultural pattern in the social mentality; a pattern that has developed a system of values, beliefs, visions and tendencies which are deeply rooted in the subconscious of the individual and social groups. This stable cultural pattern has specified the way the individual views himself and other social groups. This is due to the fact that representations of masculinity provide the social group with an image of itself and of the other. This, in turn, forms the collective narrative identity which represents a coherent system of pre-thinking, indications or signs and rules that are all deeply rooted in the collective mentality of the specified social group. Here comes the role of the female writer who introduces her own point of view as she deviates from the usual pattern that is so much rooted in the mentality of her society. In this respect, Al-Beshr’s short stories represent the voice of the silent subaltern that has long been controlled by masculine representations and deprived of its right to represent its feminine voice. The masculine voice has long spoken for the feminine silent voice. The female writer here is the one who introduces a genuine vision that best depicts her world and that of all women like herself. This voice faithfully represents the suffering of the silent subaltern, consequently, it has become a distinguished cultural voice that forms a counter and a rebellious discourse resisting all the other dominating contexts. This paper applies feminist criticism to discuss the previous ideas through three different dimensions. The first dimension discusses the representations of masculinity in the short stories of Badriya Al-Beshr, its symbols and the vocabulary, philosophy and visions which she uses to depict the dominating masculine discourse. The second dimension traces the general features of the counter feminine discourse that shakes the stable masculine institution, its discourse and deeply rooted images. The researcher will show to what extent this feminine discourse can form an independent active institution that competes with the masculine one and whether it would be able to replace it and speak for itself. The third dimension is a stylistic one that shall discuss the features of Al-Beshr’s narrative discourse and how persuasive it may be. In addition, the researcher focuses on the means and stylistic techniques used by the writer to face the dominating masculine discourse.

 


Keywords


Representation, Short Story, Badriya Al-Beshr.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24200/jass.vol7iss2pp507-527

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