House of Day, House of Night by Olga Tokarczuk

1997 WordsFeb 19, 20188 Pages
According to Judith Butler’s theory, gender is a social concept and not a natural part of being, therefore making it unstable and fluid. Gender identities are produced through what Butler calls “performativity,” the repetitive acts of expression that form and define the notions of masculinity and femininity. These repeated performances are engrained within the heteronormative society and impose these gendered expectations on individuals. In this respect, gender is something inherent in a person, however Butler writes “gender is always a doing, though not a doing by a subject who might be said to pre-exist the deed.” In Olga Tokarczuk’s House of Day, House of Night identity is undoubtedly central to the characters’ stories, specifically the strict social constructs of gender that is snarled with one’s identity. Tokarczuk’s novel presents a mosaic of stories that put into question heteronormative gender roles, while offering an alternative way of existence. Analyzing House of Day, House of Night with Judith Butler’s gender theory demonstrates the characters struggles within the rigid constructions of gender and how some ultimately deal with moving past such restricting expectations. Tokarczuk sets the tone of the novel immediately with the first chapter “Dreams,” in which the narrator’s lack of specific gendered qualities become known. The novel begins, “The first night I had a dream. I dreamed I was pure sight, without a body or a name…I could see everything.” This

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