Linguistics and Literature Studies Vol. 2(1), pp. 16 - 28
DOI: 10.13189/lls.2014.020103
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Unveiling and Subverting Hidden Meanings: The Sari as a Creative Tool in Designing a Woman’s Identity in Shakuntala Boolell’s "La femme enveloppée" (1996)


Olga Barrios *
Faculty of Philology, University of Salamanca, 37008, Salamanca, Spain

ABSTRACT

Supaya, the protagonist of Indo-Mauritian writer Shakuntala Boolell’s nouvelle “La femme enveloppée” (The Wrapped-Up Woman, 1996), rejects the sari throughout the years of her childhood as a dress that oppresses women. However, after being forced to marry at 12 and with the passage of time, she transcends oppression and uses her sari and silence as tools and space for self-discovery. I will show how Supaya, rather than allowing the sari to imprison her, will subvert the original meaning of oppression conveyed by her garment and find the necessary freedom to construct her own identity. Paralleling Supaya’s reversal of attitude towards her sari and by writing “La femme enveloppée”, Boollel equally subverts the traditional Indian woman’s image by “rescuing her dignity and strength.” (Pereyra and Mora 189) [1] In this essay I will first examine the origins and various meanings of the sari and briefly compare and contrast this Indian attire to other veil clothing imposed on women in Muslim societies. Secondly, I will ponder whether a feminist reading of Boolell’s story is possible. And, finally, I will analyze Supaya’s evolution from her original rejection of the sari as a symbol of oppression to new readings of it—as a device of resistance against confinement and as a symbol of creativity in the construction of her identity—something that will help appreciate the complexity and further meanings encountered in this Indian traditional attire.

KEYWORDS
Sari, Indian Women’S Traditional Attire, Shakuntala Boollel, Indian Diaspora, Indian Women’s Literature, Women’s Subverting Symbols Of Oppression, Indo-Mauritian Literature

Cite This Paper in IEEE or APA Citation Styles
(a). IEEE Format:
[1] Olga Barrios , "Unveiling and Subverting Hidden Meanings: The Sari as a Creative Tool in Designing a Woman’s Identity in Shakuntala Boolell’s "La femme enveloppée" (1996)," Linguistics and Literature Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 16 - 28, 2014. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2014.020103.

(b). APA Format:
Olga Barrios (2014). Unveiling and Subverting Hidden Meanings: The Sari as a Creative Tool in Designing a Woman’s Identity in Shakuntala Boolell’s "La femme enveloppée" (1996). Linguistics and Literature Studies, 2(1), 16 - 28. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2014.020103.