The Angry Old Woman in Anakana Schofield's Malarky



Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The paper analyses the novel Malarky (2012) by the Irish-Canadian author Anakana Schofield, which raises awareness of the disintegrated social identity of aging women. Once a woman crosses the line, whether as a result of retirement or the loss of a spouse, she loses a considerable deal of power and her identity is contested. By depicting the protagonist’s struggle to reconcile with her husband’s infidelity and her son’s homosexuality, Schofield exposes the hypocrisy of a society that perpetuates the cultural stereotype of wise old age and does not tolerate aging women expressing either sexuality or “socially inappropriate” emotions like anger. Building on Kathleen Woodward’s concept of anger as the antithesis of the wisdom often associated with old age, the paper further argues that anger often erupts as a reaction to emotional burnout caused by social withdrawal and exacerbated by external factors such as fear of the economic situation or a recent war. Suppressed anger can then lead to a mental breakdown, as it did for the protagonist who, ironically, tries so hard to conform to the socially approved patterns that she inevitably transgresses them. Furthermore, Schofield draws attention to the new social role of aging women and gradually reveals how societal and cultural conventions prevent them from freely voicing their identity by putting pressure on desirable behavioural patterns. This forces them to strike a balance between the need to express their love, sexuality, anger, or grief and the fear of being judged by a society that remains prejudiced against anything different.
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