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A Reflection of Binary Oppositions in the Ghost Road

Author: WangJianHua
Tutor: GuoGuoLiang
School: Zhejiang University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: Pat Barker The Ghost Road binary oppositions war
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Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2010
Downloads: 17
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Abstract


Pat Barker (1943-), the winner of Book Prize in 1995, ranks among the most important novelists of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century in Britain. In her early novels, she is preoccupied largely with the experiences and identities of working-class women, whereas Regeneration trilogy marks a significant transition from predominantly female central characters to male protagonists. The Ghost Road, the last of the trilogy, shifts between Prior’s account of his fateful return to the war in France and Rivers’s own psychological crisis.While predecessors have approached the novel through various critical lenses, feminist and psychoanalytic among them, this thesis attempts to explore binary oppositions in the human society and human life respectively. Binary oppositions are at once difficult to be perceived and invariably thought-provoking. It is true that the renowned critics Jeremy Mackinnon and John Brannigan did in their articles mention binary oppositions contained in The Ghost Road, yet, regrettably, they just scratched the surface and failed to make further explications. As a matter of fact, this topic is of great importance because many postmodernist novels in 1990s are suffused with such opposites as reality and fiction, male and female, self and other, which duly mirror people’s anxiety at the turn of the century. The uncertain relationship between fact and fiction, and the past and future challenges a rational model of historical progress so that many novelists blend these opposite elements into their writings.It is against this literary milieu that The Ghost Road presents its binary conflictions between fact/fiction, lower class/upper class, masculinity/femininity, and death/life. What is particularly noteworthy is that Barker dissolves the once rigid boundaries between these dualities, and profoundly reflects on many of the current British social problems. Therefore, the transcendence of binarism enables people to be aware that the specter of war is ever haunting generation after generation and further highlights Barker’s claim for peaceful expectations.

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