Remembering identity after postmodernity
This study focusses on the outcomes of postmodernity with particular emphasis on memory and the reconstruction of identity after postmodern theories of the fragmented self. Chapter Two analyses Graham Swift's Waterland, lain Banks's The Crow Road and Margaret Drabble's The Peppered Moth which show the reconnection of identity to cosmological, geological, genetic and familial history, and demonstrate the necessity of the subject's connection to the formerly denounced metanarrative of history. Drabble's text also highlights a gender issue concerning representations of women and motherhood in contemporary fiction. In Chapter Three, Ian McEwan's The Child in Time and Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye illustrate the way in which the new physics has influenced concepts of identity as being interconnected. The Child in Time shows how this model also risks creating an a-historical, de-politicised subject, particularly if existing problematic constructions of gender are not reformed. This reformative project is one of the main achievements of Cat's Eye in which Atwood revises archetypal female iconography. Chapter Four discusses three texts from postcolonial India: Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, Anita Desai's Clear Light of Day and Arundhati Roy's The God of mall Thin s. These novels demonstrate the specific difficulties in constructing a coherent sense of self in a fractured political situation which mourns the broken connection to the motherland. Cultural imperialism and its psychological effects are brought to the fore here, showing the ways in which imperial ideals force the postcolonial subject to accept a hybrid identity. Women are doubly oppressed in these situations by both the machinations of an Imposed Western patriarchal system and the indigenous caste hierarchy and also by association with the motherland ideal of a culturally authentic, pre-colonial India. Chapter Five brings together the themes of gender, history, memory, colonisation and the reconstruction of the self in an analysis of Toni Morrison's Beloved and Anne Michaels's Fugitive Pieces. The effects of slavery and the Holocaust, respectively, are explored in these texts and both novels conclude with the necessity of finding ways to mourn loss and go on to represent modes of subjectivity as historically and socially connected. Communal memory is reclaimed as a necessary antidote to institutionalised violence and dispossession, thereby constructing a form of identity which progresses from postmodernity.