Agency of Trauma in Anand's Untouchable and Roy's The God of Small Things
Keywords:Agency of trauma, casteist (cultural) trauma, communicating investment, dispossession, middle-voice, (mis)representation, subjectivity, (de)subjectification
Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable (1935) and Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things (1997) seek to represent the traumatic sufferings of the scheduled castes in the caste-ridden Indian society. The authors of the novels under study are not from the scheduled-castes the traumatic sufferings of whom they have tried to represent in the novels. When such is the case, the problematic resides in the authenticity of voice in the representation of dalits' traumatic sufferings. The traumatic pain of the downtrodden people the authors enact in the novels evokes the affect of sympathy in the readers. However, the big question in trauma theory is not just the sympathy that the authors evoke in their readers towards the traumatized protagonists but whether the evocation carries the direct voice of the authors and the middle voice. The projection of dalit subjectivity accompanied by the academic vocation also evokes the affect of sympathy, besides the construction of pain in the transaction between language and body. The agency of trauma supports the representation of dalits' trauma only when the authentic voice of the authors accompanies the narrativization of pain. Examined in the light of Dominick LaCapra's notion of the middle-voice and Melissa Gregg's idea of communicating investment, this research has come to the conclusion that Anand's representation of dalits' trauma in Untouchable carries the agency of trauma, which is consistent throughout the novel, whereas; Roy's representation of dalits' trauma remains ambivalent vis-à-vis the consistency of the agency of trauma in the novel The God of Small Things. Therefore, the intensity of the agency of dalits' trauma in Untouchable is more intriguing than in The God of Small Things.