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The Vegetarian: A Novel by Han Kang

The Vegetarian: A Novel by Han KangHan Kang is a writer from South Korea, received several literary awards. The book «The Vegetarian», she wrote in 2007, but in English the book was published only in 2015. The novel consists of three parts, each narrated by a different characters, but none of the parts are not from the person of its heroine Yeong-Hye. Just the small excerpts we learn about her thoughts and dreams. The narrative is linear.

In the first part of her husband talks about his “completely unremarkable in every way”, his wife, who suddenly begins to kink. The middle of the night in the dark, throws out of the fridge dear acne, then eggs with milk, meat, and lunch takes the salad with soybean paste soup and seaweed. States that will never again eat meat. In addition, there is a rebellion on all fronts: the main character is not stroking his shirts and even puts on his socks! To the question “What’s happening?” she serenely replied: “I had a dream”.

Husband gradually begins to irritate and the only reason he sees the desire of the wife to contradict him. If not, it became clear that the husband perceives his wife as his property, a thing, which can be ordered to put on makeup or dress as it considers necessary. In principle, this for me was a shock because the Eastern countries are deeply Patriarchal and conservative, and even in the modern world the relations between men and women and the family in General, there are a continuation of ancient traditions of chauvinism and misogyny.

In this part there is a cozy family dinner, which was attended by the parents of the main heroine, her sister and her husband and her brother. Ending a cozy family meeting becomes the scene of force-feeding the main character of her father, who was being shoved into her mouth pieces of roast pork, and her brother and husband were holding her hands so she can’t get out. After that Yeong-Hye fruit knife will slit my hand, my sister’s husband picks her up and take her to the hospital, where, after one incident, which, I fear, is too extensive for the format of my blog, the main character will be placed in a psychiatric hospital. The husband of the protagonist with the words “I’m the real victim here” filing for divorce.

In the second part of the story is on behalf of the husband’s sister, who drove the main character to the hospital. He is profoundly artistic nature: mounts meaningful movies with vague visuals and in addition any other work is not busy. This part has already begun traditional for Koreans, Japanese and Chinese strange events that fit into the logic of the narrative, but which absolutely cannot be explained outside of the book «The Vegetarian».

In particular we have: mongolian mark, shooting erotica at home, painting the body of the heroine flowers and floral ornaments, meeting the husband of the sister ex-girlfriend so she painted on his body in an empty office flowers and floral designs, again home video and bingo! — involuntary admission to the mental hospital outside of town.

Sister of the main character captures the narrative in the third part, and, in General, almost all the time trying to justify their actions. For example, we learn that the main character not on an empty place is a little “strange”, and the child hit her (drum roll) father. The whole family knew, no one intervened. Sister visits the main character in a mental hospital, as the doctors are concerned about her condition. She had stopped eating. At all. Even the vegetables she doesn’t want to take by mouth. Yeong-Hye is already in the stage of exhaustion, which leads to death. And Yes, again is the place to be force-feeding.

Along with this I want to note one curious detail. Patriarchal attitudes romanticize endlessly. What could be better than a knight save a damsel in distress from the tower? A kiss at sunset. Family, house, children, dog, lawn and husband. Everything is fine, if in this scheme women are not used as things. In the book «The Vegetarian» the author describe very well how it works. While the main character silently did all that satisfied with her husband, they were all “normal”.

As soon as she decides to become a vegetarian, she broke the fragile equilibrium of this house of cards and fails to satisfy the requirements of her husband. After her hospitalization, he initiates the divorce, discarded his wife as though she were a broken watch. No more contact he has with her will not be.

The book «The Vegetarian» is just 200 pages, the author manages to describe the destruction of two families and the ensuing events. Despite the fact that the main character was in the mental hospital, she only made an impression psychologically adequate. I honestly tried to feel sympathy for the other characters. They do not cause. Husband disgusting in its own way, my sister’s husband lives in his own world, and in fact also uses the main character, sister thinks it has done enough, and who can judge if everyone, even parents, have turned away from the main character?

The protest will, the discrepancy between the expectations of society, refusing to play by the rules, is what brings the main character to an expected end. Book reviewers have compared with the works of Franz Kafka. However, it is not necessary to go this far, although the sense of helplessness against the machine of society and the state is present here.

The book «The Vegetarian» will appeal to fans of Murakami, and not just Haruki, those who are looking for a book with a clear and understandable story. The book confronts the reader with more questions than answers. With a more unique ending, the book would have been more harmonious, but the idea of the author is the idea of the author.

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