A Conversation With My Father Short Story

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ABSTRACT This paper is a reading of Grace Paley’s short story “A Conversation with my Father” using Helene Cixous’s critical essay “The Laugh of the Medusa” and Luce Irigaray’s “When Our Lips Speak Together”. My concern, then, will be to extract similar points and concepts in both critical works and use them to discuss the main ideas and themes raised in the short story.
During 1970s and early 1980s, especially when feminist theory was first applied to linguistics and literary field, feminist criticism has changed scope to be of a global perspective. For feminist critics, language becomes no more just a means of communication between people but rather, “a tool of male domination” (Murfin and Ray 122). Therefore, Language is uncovered to show that it is used to represent life only from the male’s perspective. It is seen as a system of
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From a female view point, the male is responsible for female’s quo dilemma. As a writer, a woman owns the possibility to speak through her senses and her body to voice out her case. In this sense, the body occupies an important position in feminine literary works especially those of Paley, Cixous and Irigaray. Cixous considers the body as a source of power and insists on the fact that women must ‘write themselves’. She thinks that writing and the body are one. She also thinks that writing through the body can free women’s repressed unconscious and pave the way for woman to write her own destiny. Likewise, Paley sees the body as a paramount presence. In the short story, it betrays the father as it becomes frail, vulnerable and powerless. Its weakness points out the confines of the mind (reason) which gets energy from it. This portrayal of the body shows that the phallocentric realm is about to fall
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