Boating for Beginners is the second novel published by Jeanette Winterson in 1985. It deals with the growing up of Gloria Munde, who seeks her way in the world. The resemblance between Gloria Munde and Jeanette Winterson is striking and some elements of Gloria's life echo Jeanette's: both were raised in a religious environment and had problems with their parents and eventually left home. Christine Reynier in Jeanette Winterson's Le Miracle Ordinaire writes that Boating for Beginners "met en scÃ¨ne un personnage, Gloria, qui poursuit le parcours entamÃ© par Jeanette." Their path is thus very similar. Gloria becomes a "zoo keeper" for Noah, a man who runs a boat company on the Tigris and the Euphrates. Noah is a macho and an opportunistic character that has created God, called "The Unpronounceable" out of a piece of forest gateau. They both secretly decide to flood the world thus reproducing Noah's Ark biblical event. Desi who eavesdrops on a conversation between Noah, his sons and "The Unpronounceable" learns about the flood and tells Gloria, Doris and Marlene about it.
[...] In Boating for Beginners, there is not one main character, but there are several main characters: Noah, Bunny Mix, Mrs Munde, Gloria, Desi, and so on. Their points of view are given in the novel and no particular voice prevails. All the voices interrelate with one another without a particular order. So there is a plurality of voices. Even though Gloria seems to be the protagonist whose story is told, her point of view is almost inexistent. She is passive. Thus, language is less referential and no longer aims at spreading the moral values of society as it was in the case of traditional novels. [...]
[...] Conclusion All things considered, we can say that Boating for Beginners gives a much challenged vision of the subject both concerning characterization and point of view. Gloria conforms to the typical “protagonist” of post-modern literature who is in conflict with the society she lives in. Boating for Beginners can be read as a bildungsroman in the sense that it shows the development of a young girl who will evolve from ignorance and submission to confidence and knowledge, thanks to the guidance of several characters and the magical voice of the orange demon. [...]
[...] Whereas the traditional novels aim at presenting a moderate and reasonable world vision of life, post-modern novels like Boating for Beginners present a world dominated by hyperbolic behaviours and ways of thinking where all things are muddled and where bizarre interacts with the entirely ordinary.” (p107) II/ Gloria's development How has Gloria's self been constructed? Gloria will develop thanks to the help of Desi, Doris and Marlene who do not conform to the traditional image of the submitted woman. Jeanette Winterson criticizes the male-dominated society by choosing subversive role models for Gloria. [...]
[...] a rather complex and challenging one, and in a second part we will study the construction of her Boating for Beginners as a challenge of the traditional notion of subject: the character of Gloria Intellectual and physical descriptions of Gloria In traditional novels, a great importance is accorded to characterization in time and in space. There is a main character that represents the values of the society in which he is evolving. The character is free and autonomous. He uses his reason to control his passions in order to fit in the order established by society. [...]
[...] Together, they sink into deep daydreaming: elephant grunted and together they sank into a daydream of what life would be like in the city (p12) In fact, she is cut off from reality and “imagines that the world was a stage” (p73). She decides to live in an imaginary pool in order to put a barrier between herself and the outer world: lived at the bottom of a deep pool where her mother and the rest of the world were only seen as vague shadows on the surface.” (p18) She also wants to avoid her mother excessive domination upon her: “Only by remaining in a vacuum- sealed diving bell could Gloria hope to avoid the storm at sea that was Mrs Munde.” (p20) The use of point of view Traditional novels generally give a Manichean vision of life. [...]
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