Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Portrayal of human bodies is a concept which is frowned upon by Malaysians. Nonetheless, Shahnon Ahmad's illustrations of suffering bodies, as a result of fierce struggles among farmers to combat poverty, verges on the fence without being insensitive. In the same space of time, it discloses one aspect of the novel that is often dismissed. This paper aims to discuss suffering bodies in Shahnon Ahmad’s Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan (1968) in Foucalt’s post-structural conceptual framework to explore the characters’ social macrocosm. The violent relationship between the physical environment that governs and the characters that inhabit its space reveals an imbalanced scale between the nature’s reward and the energies expended from the characters’ bodies. The exploration of this ruthless relationship highlights the aspects of suffering henceforth its role in outlining the identity of the characters and their society in the novel. This paper explains how conforming to social expectations may generate internal conflicts within bodies hence creating destructive physical effects on characters’ bodies. It is shown that bodies as an allegory of the struggle in the discourse of identity is evident in Shahnon Ahmad’s powerful depiction of farmers’ predicaments particularly in 1960s rural villages of Northern Malaysia.
body politics, Malay identity, Malaysian literature, Post-colonial, Shahnon Ahmad, suffering body