The Female Monster: The Pre-Catholic Manifestation as a Response to Modern Anxiety in Selected Stories by Nick Joaquin

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/

Abstract

Scholarship on the writings of Nick Joaquin have mostly concerned themselves with either
their postcolonial resonances or the gender politics abound in the text. Tropical Gothic (1972) is widely read as an ambiguous approach toward feminism because of the depiction of the female as monstrous which has been argued to problematize its feminist possibilities, whether this depiction empowers or suppresses women in the texts. Examining the criticism of Marie Arong, Philip Holden, and Epifanio San Juan Jr., this paper asserts how existing notions of gender are able to produce a more nuanced reading of Nick Joaquin’s selected stories, specifically “Summer Solstice,” “Doña Jerónima,” and “The Order of Melkizedek.” This paper argues that while the attention to gender in the text is necessary, an exclusive treatment of the text with such a framework in mind is unfaithful to issues of the pre-Catholic and the modern that are equally resonant in the text. By using Jeffrey Cohen’s “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),” we demonstrate how the female and the feminine, by undergoing the female sacrifice and transforming into the monstrous, become a reaction to a modern anxiety toward the re-emergence of the pre- Catholic, and we reconcile the image of the female monster with her bond to nature through Sherry Ortner’s “Is Female to Nature as Male is to Culture?”. By firstly deconstructing notions of inherent female subversion in Joaquin’s selected texts, this paper is able to offer alternative ways of understanding the treatment of the female as the monster and, more importantly, see their transformation and self-sacrifice as a necessary element for the acceptance and understanding of the modern anxiety of the male characters around them, by becoming the monstrous hybrid of the pre-Catholic and the modern.


Keywords

Filipino, Identity, Modernity, Monster, Monstrous female, Pagan, Pre-Catholic

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Professor
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faruk
Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)