Eating, Starving and the Body: The Presentation of Self

Roya Nikandam


This study examines the subtle and complex importance of food and eating in contemporary female fiction. It reveals how the chief concern with food, its consumption and the body are central to the work of writer like Margaret Atwood. Two novels in particular, Cat’s Eye (1988) and Alias Grace (1996) will be considered as they feature female protagonists who experience intense conflicts concerning their bodies, conflicts that result in or are a response to violence. This violence takes the form of eating disorders. They highlight this form of bodily violence which supports their on going critique of dualistic thinking. In their fictions, Atwood shows the artificial bifurcation of human existence into body and self which tends to result in self-alienation or the splitting of the subject. This writer draws on feminist and sociological theory to engage with a diverse range of issues, including eating disorders as a form of self-violence or mutilation, to demonstrate the direct relationship of food and eating or not-eating with gender and cultural politics to manifest the role of using food in assumed association of the womanly body which leads to splitting of the subject.

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Asian Culture and History   ISSN 1916-9655(Print)   ISSN 1916-9663 (Online)

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