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Trauma, survival, and resistance: possibilities of recovery in Monica Ali’s Brick Lane and Arundhati Roy’s the God of Small Things

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2020
Baysal, Sermet Melis
This thesis analyses Monica Ali’s Brick Lane (2003) and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (1997) through the perspective of cultural trauma theory in order to lay bare the ways in which survivors respond to trauma and strategies of survival and resistance and possibilities of recovery these responses point to. Building on but also criticising earlier and Caruthian approaches to trauma, this thesis argues that the novels under study stretch and extend the definition of survivor from a helpless victim imprisoned into an incomprehensible event and its uncontrollable traumatic symptoms to a complex characterisation which involves both elements of insightful resistance through means of silence, indifference, and bodily encounter against various traumatogenic systems, and destructive after-effects of trauma. By focusing on novels written in different styles and forms which not only illustrate insidious and event-based trauma models individually but also emphasise the need for divergent textual and narrative strategies to represent the experience of trauma, this thesis also problematises the gaps of earlier trauma theory and calls for a more contextualised and pluralistic approach to trauma to acknowledge and be attentive to the multifacetedness and variability of traumatic experience and its literary representation.