Vegetal Affect: Disruptive Unfeeling in the Face of Gender Oppression in Han Kang's The Vegetarian

Abstract

Han Kang's novel The Vegetarian tells the story of a woman who has a nightmare so obscene, so violent, that it fundamentally changes how she lives in the waking world. In this disconcerting dream, the young female protagonist Yeong-hye Kim kills and eats someone—or something—with her bare hands. When she awakens, she immediately adopts a vegetarian diet but her demeanour and affective expression also change. Her face defaults to a vacant expression, she begins speaking less, and when forced to interact with others she shocks them by not only behaving in socially unacceptable ways, but also emoting (or not) in non-normative ways. In doing so, Yeong-hye reveals and disrupts hegemonic gender-based power relations, particularly those relating to affective gender expectations of women such as ‘a submissive wife, an obedient daughter, an amiable person’ that keep the patriarchy intact.

Keywords

affect, unfeeling, gender oppression, Han Kang, The Vegetarian

How to Cite

Cluett, E. J., (2022) “Vegetal Affect: Disruptive Unfeeling in the Face of Gender Oppression in Han Kang's The Vegetarian”, Moveable Type 14(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.14324/111.1755-4527.134

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Authors

Emily Jane Cluett

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