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Journal Articles Journal of The Short Story in English / Les Cahiers de la nouvelle Year : 2013

“Pariah” de Joan Williams : Femme invisible, pour qui vis-tu ?

Gerald Preher

Abstract

In “Pariah,” published in 1967, Joan Williams describes Ruth, a wife and mother who has momentarily found comfort in alcohol to avoid looking into the void her life has become. This short story offers an opportunity to reflect upon the notions of transparency and opacity, visibility and invisibility. “Pariah” also provides a fine illustration of Dorrit Cohn’s narratological theory as presented in Transparent Minds since Williams uses narrated monologue throughout the text. The reader is allowed into Ruth’s inner world, s/he is made aware of her frustrations and of her secret hopes as she slowly descends into the abyss of depression, feeling more and more estranged from herself. This description of one day in the life of Ruth stages the return of the past in the present. Now a married woman, Ruth has lost her femininity and become an object in her family home. A study of her descent into hell, namely into reality, shows that she longs for visibility in a world where women are invisible. The use of a transparent mind thus enables Williams to picture two Ruths: the public one and the private one. Although she finally decides to give up on her hopes, this day has made her realize that there is room for change and that the fight has only just begun.

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Dates and versions

hal-04100065 , version 1 (17-05-2023)

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  • HAL Id : hal-04100065 , version 1

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Gerald Preher. “Pariah” de Joan Williams : Femme invisible, pour qui vis-tu ?. Journal of The Short Story in English / Les Cahiers de la nouvelle, 2013, 60, pp. 83-95. ⟨hal-04100065⟩
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