"The brutish life that women had to live"
Smith, Sarah Elizabeth
MetadataShow full item record
I am examining how O Chŏng-hŭi presents the dehumanization of women and racial others in post-war Korea in her short story, “Chinatown.” I will analyze the situations of three women—Maggie the prostitute, the protagonist’s mother, and the protagonist’s grandmother—and explain how each woman’s social identity is reduced to her physical body, in particular her reproductive and sexual capabilities, in an effort to render her subhuman. I will explain how the women occupy liminal cultural spaces that create cultural unease and marginalize them from society: the prostitute is between American GI and Korean civilian culture, the grandmother is between female and neuter, and the mother is between conception and birth. Finally, I will show how their marginality and reduction to physical identities inform the protagonist’s identity as she transitions from a genderless childhood to a sexualized adulthood.