S-Space Researcher Institutes (연구소) American Studies Institute (미국학연구소) 미국학 미국학 Volume 40 Number 1/2 (2017)
상징적 백인성의 욕망과 『척하는 삶』
Desire for Symbolic Whiteness in A Gesture Life
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 미국학연구소
- 미국학, Vol.40 No.1, pp. 1-30
- This essay explores the psychodynamics of desire for whiteness in Chang-rae Lee’s A Gesture Life, referencing Girard’s notion of mimetic desire and Seshadri-Crookes’s conceptualization of whiteness as master signifier of race. I read Hata’s failed relationship with Mary in the American story as significant as his love for Kkutaeh in the Asian story to suggest that Hata’s subjectivity is determined by the overlap of Japanese identity and symbolic whiteness. The narrative’s “gesture” of saving Kkutaeh from abjection is highly problematic in this regard. Her superior class position puts her alongside with Captain Ono, granting her symbolic whiteness. Mary represents the mythologized wholeness of being in Hata’s racial imaginary, sustaining his desire for whiteness as power. Regarding Sunny, I examine how the narrative initially posits her blackness as the binary opposition to whiteness, but in the end makes her conform to the logic of whiteness mainly through middle-class domesticity.