Representation and identity in the wake of 9/11 : Khaled Hosseini’s The kite runner, Mohsin Hamid’s The reluctant fundamentalist, Frédéric Beigbeder’s Windows on the world and Don DeLillo’s Falling man

Andrews, Grant (2010-12)

Thesis (MA (English))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis explores the themes of representation and identity in four post-9/11 novels: Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Frédéric Beigbeder’s Windows on the World and Don DeLillo’s Falling Man. The novels of Hosseini and Hamid represent the experience of two Muslim protagonists from Afghanistan and Pakistan who immigrate to the US. The protagonists offer two contrasting understandings of fundamentalism, using this lens to understand the terrorist figure and American society respectively. The construction of power for both the American society and the terrorist is argued to be located in images which are linked to masculinity: money, sport, militancy, sex and religious devotion. The personal experiences of these protagonists reflect the political circumstances which they encounter, and both characters identify with national identities in ways which relate to their readings of representations of identity and news media. Beigbeder and DeLillo’s novels are discussed using the theme of trauma. The novels portray the experiences of American characters who are confronted with 9/11 and suffer from disorientation and loss. The negotiation of this loss takes place in relation to entanglements with the terrorist figure, who penetrates the physical and psychological spaces of these characters. Images of masculinity are evoked in order to signify this loss of power, where the destabilising of the paternal role is linked to the pervasive sense of vulnerability which the characters experience after the attacks. Memorials and rituals become ways of dealing with disorientation. The two novels unsettle the distinction between terrorist and terrorised in order to negotiate a new American identity after 9/11.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis ondersoek temas van representasie en identiteit in vier post-9/11 romans, naamlik Khaled Hosseini se The Kite Runner, Mohsin Hamid se The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Frédéric Beigbeder se Windows on the World en Don DeLillo se Falling Man. Hosseini en Hamid se romans verbeeld die ervarings van twee Muslim-protagoniste, onderskeidelik afkomstig van Afghanistan en Pakistan wat na die VSA immigreer. Hierdie protagoniste verbeeld twee uiteenlopende beskouïngs van fundamentalisme wat gevolglik aangewend word om die terroris-figuur en die Amerikaanse gemeenskap te verstaan. Die konstruksie van mag vir die Amerikaanse gemeenskap en die terroris-figuur word getoon, is geleë in beelde wat verband hou met manlikheid, naamlik geld, sport, militarisme, seks en toegewydheid. Die persoonlike ervarings van hierdie protagoniste weerspieël die politieke omstandighede waarmee hulle kennis maak. Beide hierdie karakters vereenselwig hulself met nasionale identiteite op grond van hul begrip van representasie van identiteit en die media. Beigbeder en DeLillo se romans word volgens die tema van trauma vergelyk. Hierdie romans beeld die ervarings van Amerikaanse karakters wat met 9/11 gekonfronteer word en met disoriëntasie en verlies worstel, uit. Die oorweging van hierdie verlies vind plaas in verhouding tot ontmoetings met die terroris-figuur wat die fisiese en psigiese ruimtes van hierdie karakters binnedring. Voorstellings van manlikheid word opgeroep om die verlies van mag ten toon te stel. Hierdie verlies van mag word gekenmerk deur die destabilisering van die vaderlike rol tesame met die diepgaande sin van weerloosheid wat die karakters na die aanval ervaar. Gedenktekens en rituele word vervolgens instellings om met die disoriëntasie om te gaan. Uiteindelik problematiseer die twee romans die onderskeid tussen terroris en geterroriseerde om sodoende ’n nuwe Amerikaanse identiteit ná 9/11 tot stand te bring.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/5384
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