vol. 4 No. 2 Dec. 2020

Mimicry and Masquerade in Faulkner’s American Indian Characters
Author:Yi Feng    Time:2021-02-20    Click:

Abstract: Faulkner once said that he made up his American native characters out of his imagination. His American Indian characters are hybrid and grotesque, a disturbing and troubling presence in his work. Yet some critics point out that the construction of Faulkner’s American Indians in Yoknapatawpha is not created out of a cultural vacuum and Faulkner assimilated both local and national popular thinking about American Indian people as presented in his stories. Homi K. Bhabha argues that the narration of a nation is a double address, and there is a split between the pedagogical narrative and the performative narrative of a nation. The pedagogical narrative is horizontal and historicist, which intends to indicate the people as one, whereas the performative narrative obscures the nation’s self as one and shows the heterogeneity of the nation. Bhabha argues that there exists a liminal space, a temporality of the “in-between,” in which the nation splits within itself, articulating the heterogeneity of its people rather than the homogeneity. Jacques Lacan’s paradigm of the relationship between the subject and the Other is helpful in the understanding of Bhabha’s national narration as a double address. I argue that Lacan’s paradigm of the intersection of the subject and the Other shows the liminal space of the national narrative by Bhabha. By combining Bhabha’s double narrative of the nation and Lacan’s graph on the subject and the Other, we could have a new understanding of Faulkner’s American Indian characters in his stories. In this essay, I show how some of Faulkner’s American Indian narratives are depicted as the Other, which reflects the characteristics of the pedagogical narrative; and how others can be read as the performative narrative due to the multiple effects of the mimicry of the American Indian characters such as Ikkemotubbe and Sam Fathers. I argue that Faulkner’s American Indian narratives are twisted and obscure which can be read as a double narrative, with both the characteristics of the pedagogical and the performative narrative. The narrative of American Indian characters can be regarded as happening in a liminal space where race is fluid and hybrid.

Keywords: mimicry, American Indians, William Faulkner, pedagogical narrative, performative narrative

Thank you for visiting our website. Designed by Tang Tianle

All Rights Reserved. Journal of Foreign Languages and Cultures, Hunan Normal University.