1. Discuss the Role of Shame in the Construction of Identity in L’amant by Marguerite Duras.

Topics: French colonial empire, Family, Autobiographical novel Pages: 4 (1606 words) Published: March 19, 2013
The autobiographical novel, « L’amant » by Marguerite Duras tells the story of the love affair between the young Marguerite Duras and the son and the son of a wealthy Chinese man. The story deals with the culture differences and defiance of society and of tradition and culture. Marguerite Duras was born in Indochina, a region which was part of the French colonial empire in Southeast Asia. She grew up with two brothers, her mother was a headmistress and her father did while she was still very young. Her mother struggled to bring up her children, they were raised in poverty. The majority of the book revolves around the affair she has with a Chinese man and the life that her mother lived and the effect her mother had on her family and her search for her identity. Duras shows how her mother’s life affected her children’s lives. She felt so much hatred for the fact that poverty had made her mother suffer and had turned her mad. Her mother was unable to play the role of the protector. « A cause de ce qu’on a fait a notre mère si aimable, si confiante, nous haïssons la vie, nous nous haïssons. » She allowed her children, especially her daughter to be exposed to society at a young age. In the novel, she is 15 years of age and is already aware of many things. « Ce visage de l’alcool m’est venu avant l’alcool. L’alcool est venu le confirmer... j’avais a quinze ans le visage de la jouissance et je ne connaissais pas la jouissance… »

The definition of Identity is “the set of behavioural or personal characteristics by which an individual is recognizable as a member of a group”, and the definition of shame is “an emotion that is drawn from a sense of guilt embarrassment and disgrace.” To feel ashamed is to feel unworthy. The feeling of shame is very present in « L’amant », Duras grew up in poverty, the pain that she felt because of her circumstances, forced the feeling hatred and a presence shame towards society, her mother and herself define her identity. There...
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