Precarious Subjects and Subjugated Selves: Social Class and Gender as Means of Othering in Zadie Smith's NW

Szonda, Lili
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The central topic of my research is the notion of othering in Zadie Smith’s NW (2012). The notion of othering is present on different levels of the novel, most importantly on the level of social class and gender. The underclass characters of the novel are targets of othering, which is reflected in the narration, as it refrains from the character, or describes them through another character. An underclass character reflects the exotic and demonic Other of the orientalist discourse, the emphasis on her body evokes the body-mind opposition, associating the body with the underclass and the mind with upper classes. The stigma against the poor reinforces the internalization of the female subjugation, the motherhood as threat, and the depression after abortion mirror Beauvoir’s theory on othering. To conduct the research I used the sociological and postcolonial interpretation of othering, Simone de Beauvoir’s theory about the woman as the „Other” and Judith Butler’s theory on performativity and precarity, as well as the close reading of the novel.
English literature