Little Girl


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A Marxist Feminist reading of Little Girl by Usman Awang

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Little Girl

  1. 1. A Marxist Feminist reading of Little Girl by Usman Awang Mehdi Hassanian esfahani (GS22456) Literary Theory (BBL5201) – Final Examination Marxist Criticism studies society and social classes, and the clash between norms and ideologies of ruling class (who have the power or bourgeois) and lower class (proletariats). Defining individuals by their social interchanges which are dependent on economical subjects, it predicts a revolution by lower class against the power and the hope to distribute it equally among people within a classless society (i.e. Communism). Marxist Feminism is a subtype of Feminism which is concerned about gender as well as class issues. It does not deny the role of patriarchy in suppression of women, but counts also the effect of Capitalism, and classist society. It focuses, according to Guerin, “on relation between reading and social realities” (202). It questions the role of women in personal life and in society and observes their reaction toward the classist society. It provides the area to observe the differences between male and female point of view, behavior and reaction toward social oppressions. Little Girl by Usman Awang depicts us a snapshot of an unnamed girl whose father is imprisoned due to fighting against current ‘oppression’ in society. He is among the warriors who believe in their rebellion; being imprisoned, he courageously accepts his deeds and
  2. 2. Hassanian |2 waits for the big day (when he hears the collapse of oppressors, or become free to continue his mission.) Among these middle class people, there is another man, a lawyer perhaps, or may be just a protective friend who helps this man. He has visited the man all these years, and protected his little girl kindly. In a classist society, superstructure tries to abolish rebellions and all they have. It ignores their presence and their names. Being powerless (from lower class) is equivalent of being unimportant personally. Characters in Little Girl lack the identity, they are friends and know each other, but there is no name and no job to be mentioned. Showalter in categorizing Feminist literary texts finds three phases in development of Feminism. The primary one was to imitate male-dominant traditions (Feminine phase), the following was to rebel and reject patriarchy (Feminist phase), and the current stage, that is the Female phase, unlike the previous ones accepts differences between genders, and tries to find the identity and establish women’s own traditions. The little girl, here, is the offspring of a generation struggling and fighting against social structure, the power, classism and Capitalism. She may seem to be ‘young and thin’, but her ‘soul is experienced’. She knows well that to achieve the goals one should be patient and ‘steady’. Being a girl, she is not considered or expected to be a part of the fight against the power. The man who cares for and the father are both a part of this struggle, and if they take her into account, it is to ‘sympathize and pity’. But she knows herself. She needs to establish her way. She is half aware of her identity, of ‘herself’; she does not need to explain. And she is the person of action. She has a plan. She waits and smiles. She ignores to receive any ‘help’ from the man, as she has no connection to patriarchal groups or
  3. 3. Hassanian |3 individuals. With a father in prison, she has managed somehow to settle down her life, even if it is ‘unique and not anyone can grow strong this way’. This power is the result of freedom. She seems thin, but she is ‘strong, like an areca palm, standing erect in heavy storm, waits for the morning sun’. She is the mixture of revolutionary ideology of Marxists and the patient wisdom of Feminists. She rejects ‘money’, and she rejects emotions. If there is anything she needs, it should be ‘books and paper’. Her plan is to inform, to aware, to discuss and awake others as well. She knows that the ultimate peace comes when all people contribute to fulfill their common need. Equality belongs to all, and society should be prepared for it. She does not consider her situation personal and unique. Believing that ‘there are many other children in the world like her’, she is hopeful toward future; ‘awaits the sun’. Talking about other girls as comrades, she believes that they will succeed and the revolution, the change, and the future belongs to them. Awang, in Little Girl, presents an oppressed society, and two generations of people. If the father is arrested, and the other man (who is called uncle) is not seriously involved in fighting against the oppression and superstructure, if he is patriarchal and cannot realize the universality of their struggle, but the next generation, the girl is ‘mature and experienced’. Being oppressed by society and patriarchy, she has a plan. Being self-confident and strong, she seems to be the leader of revolutionary movement who will (seek and) establish equality for men and women, distribute economical resources between people and bring them a classless society. She is the ultimate goal of Marxist Feminism. Her acts are promising and one day she will ‘destroy the purpose of a thousand prisons’.
  4. 4. Hassanian |4 Works Cited Guerin, Wilfred L. A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature. US: Oxford University Press, 1999. Showalter, Elaine. Toward a Feminist Poetics; Women’s Writing and Writing about Women. London: Croom Helm, 1979.