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Make-Belief in Language and Verity of Legitimized Oppression: A Critical Analysis of Selected Extracts From Anita Shreve's Body Surfing
The research in hand is a textual analysis of the novel Body Surfing by Anita Shreve which explains the role of language in the construction of an ideology as reality. The aim is to highlight the construction of a certain concept or ideology as a dominant truth claim in society through discourse and how is it blindly followed by all the members without the least strife to change that so-called dominant ideology. Language as a major agent in the construction and perpetuation of an ideology is forever the discourse of those who are in power. This research will propound the discourse active behind the verity of ‘oppression’ done to women as taken-for-granted and fair. By employing Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as research method, the study will critically examine the role of language in legalizing women oppression. We have cultivated the idea of ‘women as weak’ into something real, that has come to us generation after generation, through language. This supposition provides theoretical underpinnings for the research, which is arrived at through CDA by treating language post-structurally. The literature analyzed highlights the role of language in the process of meaning-making by considering it to convey reality. The various words and phrases from the extracts in hand with contextual and conceptual affiliation, are dealt with under the backdrop of Fairclough’s (1992) Three Dimensional Model of CDA, which results in the recognition of oppression thought as legitimate by the ultimate use of language. The analysis done under the backdrop of post-structuralism will show that language is not the depiction of maximum reality rather; it is we, the users of language, who make it real by considering some concepts as truth and others as myth. The paper concludes that the opposite gender is actually oppressed and that this oppression is not given, rather the constructed one. CDA challenges this oppression and declares it the work of language only. It (language) has no signs of reality, subsistence or truth.
Construction, Oppression, Reality, Truth
Language is the most important factor in human life. If seen deeply, there
remains perhaps no aspect of life, where language does not interfere. Whether it is shopping, travelling, family, policy making, institutions, religion, government etc. language has its major role to play. The truth of the matter lies in the fact that without language nothing is possible. Even, we are not able to think without language; we cannot determine concepts; relations are to be described in words; and even our own self is the outcome of language, whether we conceive it or share it with others. In the same way, the users of language employ various discourse strategies to serve their purposes. They use it to describe phenomena, make themselves represented, discuss relationships, share their experiences, and preserve it for their coming generations as sacred equity. They use it accordingly to describe something exactly what they mean it. It is also used by them to mystify their ideas, to oppose what is actually meant. It is through language that the positive is changed into negative, destructive is made constructive, and virtuous are treated as sinful. The contextual use of language in various aspects of life presents various facets of language i.e. discourses. These discourses and their construction depend totally upon the discretionary power of the people who use it. The various chunks of information provide numerous solid bases for the discourses to take place. But, one thing seems clear that it is always discourse that provides boundaries for day-to-day communication to take place.
The shared experiences of people within a society help in the achievement of authenticity to some degree in a language community. The belief system and collective knowledge give diverse contextual clues for discourse. Context is, in this regard, an important platform on which discourse is constructed. We might not be able to interpret a single message in two different contexts. For example, the term ‘pilgrim’ has two different associations of meaning in England and Saudi Arabia. In England, it alludes to someone visiting some sacred place. On the other hand, in Saudi Arabia, it has a very vast Islamic ideology in its background. It only means a person visiting the Holy Kaaba with the associated rituals and procedures i.e. ‘Hajj’. Coming straight to the point, it is the shared knowledge and belief system of people which pave the way for a certain discourse to take place and is made real. This reality and taken-for-granted quality in language is achieved through homogeneity in the socio-cultural makeup of the society, ethnicity, nation, sect etc. Our belief systems are so firmly constructed that they do not allow others’ ideologies to enter, interfere, and disrupt. Every belief system has its own knowledge foundations and each tries to pass redundantly its so-called real ideology to the coming generation. Boroditsky (2011) asserts the role of language that it:
Provides its own cognitive toolkit and encapsulates the knowledge and worldview developed over thousands of years within a culture. Each contains a way of perceiving, categorizing and making meaning in the world, an invaluable guidebook developed and honed by our ancestors. Research into how the languages we speak shape the way we think is helping scientists to unravel how we create knowledge and construct reality and how we got to be as smart and sophisticated as we are. And this insight, in turn, helps us understand the very essence of what makes us human. (p. 65)
In the view of Boroditsky, it is through language that we construct and deconstruct ideas, relationships, and concepts. We add meanings and give new dimensions to the already present concepts in a language. We as human beings think in the way in which our particular languages limit us to think. We perceive in the categories, dimensions, norms, ideologies, and belief systems, specified to us by our language. We are in the clutches of language and hence our thinking too. It shapes our perception of the world and tags it with reality in the exact possible way. In a nut shell, it is language that makes an ideology real; otherwise, there is no reason to suppose that the present belief systems are real in their essence, given, or innate. Truth and reality in relation to language/discourse are, therefore, epistemologically discussed below.
Truth and/or Reality: An Ontological Consideration
Language as the building block of human communication is used much widely. It is sometimes that it serves the exact purpose i.e. to communicate the information. In great many cases and usual situations it always mystifies and hides the actual meaning. With its aspect of discursiveness, it changes many ordinary things into truth claims and tries to perpetuate them in society with the help of those who are political. It is always language that makes the untrue as true and vice versa. Living in a single speech community and hence having a cultural society needs various discursive strategies on part of the members to employ them for the purpose of communication. We have belief systems, value-laden norms, cultural ties, relationships, and religious associations in society and their discussion, transmission, and erection require the speakers/members to make the best use of them in the form of accepted ideologies and taken-for-granted values. This credibility is achieved only and only if the substance of truth is added to the discursive structures and linguistic formations. The various theories and concepts can truly and pragmatically represent us as true humans, if they are based on the notion of reality; they can achieve their aim and desired effect if they are made look real.
Words are like blocks (constituents) in the construction of the building (structure) of language. They have symbolic value which represents various connotative meanings. It means that it is the property of symbolic meaning i.e. representation, which is of extreme importance in arriving at the meaning of a sentence. This representational quality in symbols is again at the mercy of truth repertoire included or associated with them. Truth of the sentence is got by virtue of the situation that makes it look true. According to Sterelny and Devitt:
It is undoubtedly plausible to think that representing is the core of meaning in general, and hence that having a certain truth condition is the core of a sentence’s meaning in particular. Nevertheless this “representationalism” is an hypothesis and it is not without controversy. Thus some people think that the core of a sentence’s meaning is its property of being verified or warrantedly [italics in original] asserted if and only if a certain situation obtains. (1999: 20)
Sterelny and Devitt are of the view that words represent what we mean them. But according to them this is only a supposition and it is still open for discussion. The theory of representation of words is only one dimension of the theory of meaning. But, at the back of this theory, as they assert, there is the element of truth, supposed to be present. This truth will be accepted blindly by the hearer/interpreter to be able to grasp the meaning fully. So, it is the situation and the circumstances in which we exist and that conjure a world of truth for us. It is not, on the other hand, the words in themselves, having anything like truth. Putting it simple, the world of our experiences makes things real and actual for us. Truth or reality in our language totally depends upon the diachronic perception of experience that extends to the concepts making and considering them true in advance.
There is no necessary connection between the truth and the words describing the truth. To some extent, it is our perception of seeing the world as true for us. We, unconsciously determine something as true/truth in advance, what is told to us. The reason behind this is our presupposition of the action taking place. We believe in the reality of the statement, be it verbal or written. Thus a factual world is constructed keeping in view the so-called truth condition. Coleridge’s theory of ‘Willing Suspension of Disbelief’ (quoted in Martin, [n.d.]) best expresses this connection between the words and their truth value. According to this theory, if we want to enjoy the work of art (and hence intend to arrive at the essence of meanings in it) we must necessarily limit us to the make-belief of what is told. We must believe in the truth of the story. Despite the fact that the narrative/fiction/poetry etc. is just the imaginary world related to the mental and conceptual narration of its narrator, we have to believe in that. Same is true of every utterance. The truth claim in it depends upon the degree of belief in it. It is this degree of belief which is provided all the time by the experience that we acquire overtime. According to Martin):
The physicality of printed words requires a complicated methodology of agreement among readers that like markings possess like meaning. For writing to make any sense at all a reader must willingly suspend disbelief that the meanings of the words may have changed between readings. Furthermore, a reader must be willing to suspend disbelief that the symbols creating written language bear sense and convey meanings that refer to objects and concepts in the real world that are in fact not the symbols themselves. ([n.d.]; para. 7)
Martin gives methodological perspective to the process of meaning-making and declares that it is more than just natural. This technicality achieves higher aim in so far as meaning extraction is concerned. Words do not convey meanings in a natural way, rather; it depends upon the strategy of the interpreter to decode a message and get the desired meaning. This strategy is provided by the element of credibility. An interpreter has to strongly believe in whatever is told to him/her. S/he has to agree that yes, the so and so word means such and such thing. Despite the absence of any logical connection between the words and their intended meanings, s/he has to retain credibility in the account in the most authentic way possible. In simplest words, the interpreter has to make his/her mind accept the notion that words do point to physical things in the world. By so doing, we can be able to construct our experiences and interpret the various and diverse meanings included in and represented by them.
Truth is not a solid thing to be achieved or having a perceived economic worth. It is just the blind following of an argument for its own sake and considering it true. It is the believing into something that ‘yes it is’; a supposition to be felt and considered as true without the least strife to arrive at the validity of that supposition. Bowell and Kemp contend: “To ask ‘what is the truth-value of that proposition?’ is the same as asking whether or not that proposition is true” (2010: 61). In believing ‘The sky is blue’ is just the admission of the fact that yes, the color of the sky is blue and so ‘The sky is blue’ and this belief is the truth claim in the supposition. Beyond this claim of the color of the sky as blue there is nothing (like experiment, tentative reasoning, scientific process) to be supposed to consider it as untrue. In the words of Bowell and Kemp, even the refutation of the existing truth claim is again in the form of truth i.e. is it ‘true’ or is it not ‘true’. We do not need to go into the details of arriving at the epistemology of that truth claim. Also, if we do not accept the truth of any statement, it is not the negation of the truth claim in that statement; it is the negation of the outlook of someone else’s speaking as how s/he considers the statement ‘The sky is blue’. If someone thinks ‘The sky is not blue’, it is his/her discomfort with the color of the sky i.e. the attitude that s/he has towards the color of the sky. Now, what about the question of outlook? If so many people are there, then so many outlooks are also there. Now, the question arises ‘Is it possible for a truth claim to have individuality among so many different outlooks and hence so many interpretations? To my perspective, yes it is. It is the knowledge and the common grounds of understanding for that knowledge that truth claims retain their individual value as truths or ‘universal truths’ to be very specific.
Society runs on the basis of the belief system that its inhabitants have. The belief system is in turn the combination of various ideologies that are fostered into it regarding various experiences, actions and attitudes of the people. What gives these various ideologies the character of reality is regarding them as being ‘true’. How certain ideology is considered as true or untrue, is dealt by Mellor (2012). According to him, for an ideology to have the value of truth claim, it is necessary that the belief does possess some desire in order to produce some valid reason to take the necessary action. He asserts:
An action succeeds when it fulfills (i.e. achieves the object of) the desire that has combined with some belief to cause that action. And that’s what the truth of our belief ensures: that the actions they combine with our desires to cause will succeed in fulfilling those desires. That in the end is why we want true beliefs rather than false ones. We want them because truth is what makes our beliefs useful to us in this well-defined sense. (p. 49)
Mellor’s account diverges towards pragmatics. We regard an ideology as true and real if it serves and satisfies our desires by causing certain action for the attainment of that desires; “if the judgment is true, then the corresponding state of affairs obtains, and if the state of affairs, which the judgment posits, obtains, then the judgment is true” (Pfänder quoted in Mulligan, 2009: 51-52). In the same way if it fails to achieve our desires, it is then regarded as untrue. In this sense, ideologies as part and parcel of our belief system are the practical sources for the attainment of our desires, be they positive or derogatory. Same is the opinion of Lepore and Ludwig (2005). According to their perspective in order to be able of having an ideology i.e. a belief in/about something, one needs to be in the position of having a condition (and/or situation) that must be either true or untrue. They put the subjects of truth and falsity on opposing poles and dialectically relate them in order to find out the answer that it is “to understand the contrast between the merely subjective, what one merely believes, and how things really are, the objective world; when the former “matches” the latter, one’s beliefs are true, otherwise false” (p. 397). Putting it the other way round, when one’s judgment of the world is satisfied by his/her subjective thinking it is called the truth, and it is falsity if one’s personal outlook clashes with the materiality of worldly experience. But can we say that an ideology failing to achieve its desired effect is not an ideology? Roughly, we can say no. It is still an ideology but will be talked of as untrue and unreal. This consideration of an ideology for having the value of a truth claim is convincing it in the sense that it is more practical, convenient and mundane as compared to the philosophic and abstract discussion of what actually truth is.
So what are ‘truth/reality’ and ‘falsity’ in the strict sense of the terms? What makes something true/real or false on the other hand? There distinction is a bit philosophic but on the continuum. Simons (quoted in Rodriguez-Pereyra, 2002) is of the opinion that the truth value of a sentence is the combination of two main different factors: language and existence. Language is that by virtue of which the meaning of the sentence is determined as true and existence is the reality of/about the truth in the actual world i.e. the worldly experience of certain reality. In the same way, Rodriguez-Pereyra makes the necessary differentiation between the truth and reality of a sentence or any supposition. He differentiates between truthmakers and truthbearers. In his view, truthmakers are tautological inferences and truthbearers are just the suppositions in their own place; to believe that assumptions are true in their own place have two basic ideas. The sentence ‘It is a mobile phone’ has a truth (truthmaker) about it and that truth is the declaration that yes, it is. But the entity or the object in the form of mobile phone i.e. the noun phrase by virtue of which we recognize it as mobile phone, which is different from telephone, is what makes it truthbearer. So truthbearers are the concepts or suppositions in themselves, they allude to their being or occurring of them as ‘something’. It is in this way that the truth/reality of processes, experiences, notions, ideologies, institutions and experiences are discussed and taken for granted. There are as many truthmakers as are there many truthbearers and as Armstrong (quoted in Lillehammer & Rodriguez-Pereyra, 2003) puts it “this would appear to be true, and indeed to have innumerable truthmakers, each of them sufficient by itself for the truth of this proposition” (p. 18). In the same way, as is put by Rodriguez-Pereyra, (2002), if something is not true or is regarded as false, it means that it is not in coherence with the exact truthmaker; so “If it is false, then this can only be because the world as a whole is a necessary being” (Armstrong quoted in Lillehammer & Rodriguez-Pereyra, 2003: 18). It can be said that suppositions and declarations are true because they are true, for they are made true by their truthmakers and challenging them as untrue has to be made in conformity with the multifaceted truthbearers. But as entities or beings are concrete or at least there phenomenally, to challenge their falsity will again foster the discussion on the truth of their existence i.e. whether they are true or un(true).
Truth and/or reality are epistemologically important if we want to reach a certain compromising position. Our statements, belief systems, priorities, attitudes, relationships, roles, politics, are just the game of language with the so-called truth ingredient which acts as a unifying force. But coming straight to the question: Is there any (de facto) truth at all, can be answered in ‘no’. Truth, as is conceived in philosophy and academia, is a phenomenological entity, having meaning in the most abstract form. It is valid as far as we believe it to be valid. It is self-explaining and self-proving. It can be seen only in correlation with and reference to something, if that (something) is to be regarded as true. This post-structural stance to truth makes it a triggered phenomenon having an ambivalent and unconscious acceptance by all alike. Hence, it is just the carrier of reality having little to do with exactness, naturalness, authenticity and transcendence. The nature of something is true because of its ‘truth’, and this ‘truth’ is the truth-value added by the blind acceptance of the enigma of sense and reference. Everything is true and real in its own place because it looks real. Hence, the ideologies are supposed to be real because of the reality discursively constructed for those who are in the tradition to follow them blindly, boldly and blatantly without thinking and without space for discretion.
Truth and/or Reality: It is All Power Oriented
Truth and/or reality in the form of norms are/is not given and predestinate. Society is the mixture of various discourses or discourse types (Fairclough, 1989) which infer meanings from the general body of language. The taken-for-granted characteristic of an ideology in any of the discourse type like any social institution for instance, is achieved on the basis of the interplay of language and power. Power is the faculty of those who have the language (discursive authority) and vice versa. It means that it is those people in society generally and the academia particularly, who use language powerfully and construct such ideologies that are in their provision and which are purely but covertly in the discomfort of the powerless. This power in discourse (text here) is exercised mainly in two ways i.e. power in discourse and power behind discourse (Fairclough, 1989). Power in discourse is the power relations unequally exercised and contested by the discourse participants in any discourse type or order. It is the contextual site for the exercise, construction, control, legitimization, and stance of those participants who hold the authority in discourse. In the same way power behind discourse is the ideologies, macro level power politics, administrative policies, governmental and institutional hierarchies, broader national and cultural identities, religious and ethnic ties etc. which specify boundaries for these various discourses and do not allow their participants to cross the premises. For the current work, the position of power behind discourse will be taken: i.e. the various ideologies constructed by the powerful social institutions to be taken-for-granted by the weak and powerless participants without any reason to suppose them to be unreal and/or untrue. Referring to Marx, Barker writes, “the dominant ideas in any society are the ideas of the ruling class” (2002, p. 53), that it is always those in power (the ruling class) who invest language for their own aims and in turn invent ideologies which are totally in their favor. It is this power i.e. the power behind discourse that allows for the free play of language to be taken as real and hence the ideologies to be accepted blindly without the least space for negotiation and dialogue.
The reality or truth-value of any ideology is the matter of power. It is power, the potential and discursive power exercised covertly which is responsible for the truth and/or reality of an ideology. The so-called objectivity that is given to any discourse ideology is actually based on the subjectivity and idiosyncratic behaviors of the discourse participants. Referring to Nietzsche, Barker says that what he meant by the ethnocentric quality of the truth value was his belief that all the knowledge and reasoning are evolved on the basis of some subjective experiences in some particular culture. Hence, if it has any particular culture as bed for its seeds, it is then authoritative and powerful and so valid and true in those premises. As truth, being the dialectical correlation of sense and reference is comprised of the culture based knowledge, so it is necessarily powerful by assuming certain things as valid for and by themselves according to the experiences in that particular culture. Barker continues that as different interpreters have different outlooks about the experiences of the world, so it totally depends upon the powerful subjective thinking of those who make ideologies valid and true by virtue of their power and “since there is ‘no limit to the ways in which the world can be interpreted’, ‘truth’ is a question of whose interpretations count as truth, that is, it is an issue of power”. Ideology, or any truth-claim, therefore, is the outcome of “ideas of [italics in original] the powerful: that is, ideologies that belong to the powerful and are imposed upon the subordinate against their interests”. In this case ideology becomes subalternate, making the less powerful just commodities in the hands of those who retain the power ― the power behind discourse, rhetorical power, and discursive power.
The power factor lying behind any ideology can be understood by the dialectical relationship of ideology to materialism (truth). According to Barker, in Marxist tradition the main reason behind the working class’ failure to substantiate their cause was the very misrecognition of the fake understanding of their status. The dominant ideology had made them think that they retained a class and status of their own while in reality; they were only mistaken into the acceptance of that stance of the ideology. The ideology at that time was conscious of the ruling class or the aristocracy. It voiced both the say and sway of those who were in power and who were the creator of that ideology. According to Althusser (2005):
Perfectly clear in the case of a class society. The ruling ideology is then the ideology of the ruling class. But the ruling class . . . the bourgeoisie, developed a humanist ideology of equality, freedom and reason; it gave its own demands the form of universality. (p. 234)
Althusser considers the capitalists a cunning folk who have very audaciously coined the ideology in the interests of their own while at the same time making it neutral and universal. Had they overtly voiced their plea, their ideology would be propagandist which they did not like at all. But since no objective truth is possible, this ideology cannot represent the cause of the working class and in no way can it solve their problems i.e. their true representation in relation to their role, work, and concerns of liberal humanism. Their mis(recognition) of themselves as the ‘producers’ even, is manipulative and encroaching. But even then, how is it that ideology is so grotesquely permeated in the consciousness of those for whom it is disadvantageous? The answer is that ideology in the form of discourse is always the product of the thinking of those to whom it belongs and it in turn shapes their ways of thinking. Fairclough (1989), referring to the constituted and constitutive role of discourse asserts “social structures shape MR, which in turn shape discourses, and discourses sustain or change MR, Which in turn sustain or change structures” (p. 163). Ideology, in this sense enjoys dual privileges i.e. it is on one hand, the psychological formation of its possessors and the framing model of the social experiences of them on the other hand. Hence, whatever the subject matter, it is taken for granted by its possessors due to its constitutive role (Fairclough & Wodak, 1997; Barker, 2002). So, ideology, if it does not at all represent reality, at least presents the fictitiousness about reality, as Althusser (1971) puts it about ideologies “they do not correspond to reality, i.e. that they constitute an illusion, we admit that they do make allusion to reality” (p. 162); that it tells us and makes us conscious of the phenomena through which we can arrive at certain meanings to be accepted culturally, logically, and socially; constituted powerfully by those who want to keep others as ‘Other’, culturally, socially, intellectually, and materially inferior to them.
In the same way, Foucault (quoted in Mills, 2003) asserts “the internal structures of knowledge and discourse are seen to be produced through inner-relations of power and the effects of those power relations on individuals” (p. 23). Foucault argues that ideologies established through discourses are the combination of knowledge and power. According to his views it is knowledge (of/by) the powerful which makes a certain ideological discourse powerful. As knowledge is based upon the past experiences, which are archaeology recorded and then tactfully reordered by those in power, so they do convey the outlooks of those power structures which are re(produced) as an unconscious attempt of (powerful) academia i.e. the academic discourse. Thus, past experiences and knowledge, despite their accuracy, remain by no means authentic and true and hence objective. They become the unconscious subjective treatments and the amalgamation of various subjective outlooks. Since, we as subjects blindly follow whatever is told to us through history, the various ideologies become the tools of power for those who construct it epistemologically through academic discourse. Knowledge, as it turns subjective through the subjective treatment of the powerful structures (social institutions) in society, itself becomes powerful and in turn turns the ideologies to be powerful and idiosyncratic. In this sense, social institutions and knowledge are complementary. The establishment and perpetuation of ideologies through social institutions is not abrupt but a long and un(conscious) effort through the shared understanding of social relations i.e. social institutions cannot be created instantaneously. Institutions always have a history, of which they are the products. It is impossible to understand an institution adequately without an understanding of the historical process in which it was produced. Institutions also by the very fact of their existence, control human conduct by setting up predefined patterns of conduct. (Berger & Luckmann, 1966: p. 72)
In the view of Berger and Luckmann, social institutions as the carrier of ideologies are historically situated. This historicity is intertextual i.e. to understand the evolution and development of certain social or ideological institution is based upon the past knowledge(s) and as knowledge is shared, it becomes more subjective and power oriented. Therefore, social institutions, being the product of subjective thinking, will always promote the ideologies of the powerful and will guide human conduct in the way it likes. As they voice the authority of the elite, aristocrat, ruler, and despot; they will control those on the other side of the pole.
The intertextual nature of ideology is put on the same lines by Gramsci (quoted in Barker, 2002). Gramsci also considers ideology as an active experience which is carried on generation after generation and which specifies its rules from within itself in a hermaphroditic way. These rules become the joining forces which bind the society together in a complex web of human relationships with the sole aim of producing unequal powerful units i.e. the classes. That ideology is “both lived experience and a body of systematic ideas whose role is to organize and bind together diverse social elements, to act as social cement, in the formation of hegemonic blocs” and “it more often appears as the fragmented meanings of commonsense inherent in a variety of intertextually located representations” (p. 55), means that it is historically located and is the combination of various subjective endeavors by those in power into making it a coherent whole, a rule, to be followed by those who are below and underestimated. This mechanism by which ideology is made authoritative is called “hegemony” (p. 57). Hegemony, against the traditional meaning of the term as power used in its many forms, then in Gramscian analysis, refers to the rhetorical or discursive power which is gained through consent by those who are less powerful. So it is mainly language, according to Gramsci (quoted in Femia, 1981) as the guiding force of society because of its role as the perceiving entity of the world; language “itself serves a hegemonic function” (p. 44). Femia puts it very conveniently that Gramsci’s looked at language as the guiding and stamping authority over the recognition or demolition of metaphysical truths. He looked at the working of language “in how its subtle connotations freeze perception and conception, thus facilitating the acceptance of conventional assumptions and impeding the expression of heretical ideas” (p. 44).
The truth-claim in an ideology is not any inherent truth in that ideology; rather, it is the communication and the redundant transmission of that ideology that is important and which then in turn gives truth ‘value’ to that ideology. Otherwise, it is all the game of advantage and personal liking. Gramsci (quoted in Barker, 2002) considers the role of critic to be important here. The critic like a magnifying glass sees the nature of the ideology to be true or otherwise false. As according to him, all the ideologies are the by-products of the psychologies of those who are in power to serve their own interests against the interests of the powerless, so according to the critic’s point of view such ideologies are untrue but the advantages related to them are real. And since, ideologies are ultimately related with advantages, they too are considered as true and real. But one thing becomes clear from Gramsci’s account that the world is tied by a pragmatic consideration for ideologies. Truth as an asset is not the point of concern but truth as an advantage in any form is of value. If it has some pragmatic value, the ideology then is real; otherwise, it is false.
So, what is truth in reality! Walshaw (2007) refers to Foucault who considered that no pure objectivity is possible in the world and hence no truth can be arrived at. According to her all that the researchers can do to attain truth is to engage epistemologically in the same tradition and intertextually. No critic can claim that their work is the most authentic one. No one can claim 100% originality in establishing the actual truth. But this also does not mean that research in this area should be neglected due to its abstract and void nature. Truth and its recognition are not abrupt, sudden, and at hand ontology. Being part of social sciences they are “historically situated and strategically practiced” (p. 150). Truth and its recognition are multidimensional and idiosyncratic. It is dialogic, inter-textual, and inter-discursive. The critics have to “pay more attention to their responsibilities in decision making than to ‘getting it right’. That is because they are well aware that being right is, for all intents and purposes, a position within a regime of truth”. Hence, identity, culture, media, social institutions, etc. have their own ideological regimes of truth, each seeking to dominate the opponent in multiple ways. They have their own ideologies establishing and realizing. Supporting Foucault in this regard and keeping his this view as an ideology (true or untrue), one must focus on the ends, the “interests” (Barker, 2002, p. 56) ― it is availing and true that ideologies are real as they satisfy people’s interest of looking at them politically; they all spring from “the effects of special relations of power, and all produce some dissonance between and within individuals” (p. 151). The reality and verity of ideologies is therefore, the product of the discursive and unequal power relations in society, exercised and resisted at various socio-political and socio-economic levels.
To conclude, as researchers of social science, we can say that utterances have meanings by the value of representational aspect of the words i.e. their symbolic significance. But, relying totally on this assumption would make language structural, static, and non-changing phenomena which is again contrary to the task in hand i.e. language as the bearer of reality. Language as the representation of reality requires it to be considered in a post-structural way i.e. regarding it a symbolic system with varied connotative meaning-dimensions. Here, we are in conformity with the notion of Qureshi (2014), who while referring to Saussure, asserts:
All the structures are made of signs and these structures have their rules and regulations, on the basis of which they circulate . . . We, as the participants in various discourses admit to certain things as facts and reject others as unlawful or just fables. (p. 80)
From the foregoing discussion, it can be assumed that the so-called established norms as supposed to be true are basically laid by the domain of language. The power structures in society strive for giving permanent structure to certain concepts like ‘oppression’ to be exercised freely; they legalize it in the form of dominant ideology and discursively try to legitimize it for those who are helpless to accept it as make-belief. The power behind the discourse of oppression uses language and manipulates it to achieve its dire aims; to suppress the weak, detain them, and keep them under authority. In this research, the weaker status of the oppressed group (women) is discursively made real in society by the dominant group (men) in the form of the truth claim i.e. women are weak. This claim has its seeds in the discursive construction of the many associated ideologies with the claim like women having reproductive organs, their incapacity to accommodate, their physical weakness, and their greater sexual urge etc. as compared to their counterparts. The recurrent perpetuation of the claim and its overall practical implementation make it truth in a belief system which is patriarchal in its nature and character.
How is the so-called real ideology of women oppression represented by Anita Shreve in her novel Body Surfing (2007)?
Research Design and Method
The research in hand is qualitative and is based on textual analysis. For the sake of analysis and interpretation, Fairclough’s (1995) dialectical-relational approach of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) has been used. CDA, with various models of interpretation provides critical lens to the critic, thereby, providing them with the tools necessary for the understanding of the complex ideological structure of the society; it investigates the erection and perpetuation of ideologies on one hand and on the other hand, it presents the broader understanding of the resistance shown to the accepted ideologies by the members of society. According to Fairclough (1995), a text can be analyzed from three different perspectives: the literary, superficial make-up of texts; discourse presenting the construction and eternalization of ideologies; and the relationship of the constructed ideology through discourse to the broader social structure. Text of the novel will be analyzed keeping in view the three elements of Fairclough’s model. There is strong correlation between this qualitative research and CDA. van Dijk (quoted in Sajid & Ahmad, 2014) asserts that texts are bearers of reality and that this reality is the depiction of personal and institutional interests, which indirectly means that they have no inward reality but are made real by the discursive use of language; texts do not represent reality rather they only describe it. Therefore, the aim of CDA is “to find out or reveal the means of dominance/hegemony and inequality present in the society by critically examining texts whether spoken or written” (p. 27). Our task, as researchers, will be to find out those power structures which lead to unequal and subordinate position of women in society by considering oppression of women a fair truth claim and hence legitimized, through the examination of the multiple meanings that the texts have (Qureshi, 2014).
The reasons behind using CDA as method of analysis for the current research are manifold. Novels are the sites for the construction and resistance of various socio-political, socio-economic, and cultural practices actually seen in society. The novelists propagate these social issues in written form (the written discourse) and try to give a platform for the negotiation of certain ideologies which are not thought to be in conformity with the broader social order. They do so by allowing the interpreters to hermeneutically engage with the texts of their novels; to strive for the recognition of those deeper structures that underlie the construction and perpetuation of secular ideologies erected through language in the form of power abuse in society i.e. the “social inequality as it is expressed, constituted, legitimized, and so on, by language use (or in discourse)” (Wodak, 2002; p. 11).
The aim of CDA, according to her, is the critical understanding of the unjust social issues and thereby providing arbitrary and common grounds for the acceptance of social structures by all equally. CDA as an analytical tool helps the interpreter to critically engage with the text for the highlighting of various social issues and thereby creating a space for the benevolent ideas in place of the more rigid, staunch, gendered, and orthodox ones. van Dijk (2008) asserts that CDA “is a type of discourse analytical research that primarily studies the way social power abuse, dominance and inequality are enacted, reproduced and resisted by text and talk in the social and political context” (p. 85). The novel in hand is a written discourse on the social-political conditions of women in patriarchal societies. It is the site of various ideologies like gender biases, inequality, dominance, role orientation etc. discursively constructed through a struggle for power by male on the basis of the weaker social status of women. Griffin (2005) is of the view that the construction and enactment of various ideologies is through language and by language. It is therefore convenient to use CDA as method of analysis in order to see the workings of language in the formation of various ideologies and the so-called actual representation of them. CDA, despite its use mainly in linguistics, is not confined to the obvious and superficial linguistic features of texts like stylistics; it, rather, correlates the formal features of texts to the larger social setup.
Fairclough’s Three Dimensional Model of CDA
Fairclough’s Three Dimensional Model comprises of three main stages namely: description stage, interpretation stage, and explanation stage. Each of these stages is elaborated briefly below.
The stage of description in Fairclough’s Three Dimensional Model of CDA outlines the tagging and marking of the formal features of a text. Fairclough (1989) mentions ten questions during this stage which are relevant from the point of view of single words, vocabulary, experiential values, metaphors and formal grammatical structures present in a text. The labeling of these features makes the interpreter as well as the reader convenient for the stages of interpretation and explanation.
The stage of interpretation sees discourse (text) as a site for discursive struggle. This stage deals with the participant(s) observation in a discourse. How various relations are maintained, outlooks are resisted, experiences are shared, roles are oriented, and ideologies are contested by the participants, is the concern of this stage. The participants have certain common grounds of knowledge for the understanding of social phenomena. This shared understanding, collective consciousness or as is put by Fairclough (1989) the MR’s (Members’ Resources) provides an arbitrary characteristic for phenomena to be taken as valid or observable under certain conditions. It is here that the interpreter of discourse looks for the discursivity lying in the form of accepted behaviors and ideologies. The various structural devices provide clues for the construction of discourse. By adopting the role of a participant observer, the interpreter him/herself becomes a member of a particular discourse or language community and uses his/her own discretionary power or MR’s in order to arrive how certain meanings are created out of the web of human relations in varying social contexts.
Under the consideration of MR’s, the stage of explanation sees discourse (text) as a social practice. Any piece of discourse or text is a social construct of the web of human relations. These relations are politically contested through power and domination. The social institutions, organizations, belief systems, identities, and cultural affiliations are the result of the social struggle of the participants in a discourse. The stage of explanation regards these and many other domains on a macro level, as against the stage of interpretation that is micro i.e. observing phenomena within a specific social context. The stage of explanation acts as a cohesive by binding the interpreted outlook of the interpreter to a wider social context. It produces the general critique of interpretation by the discourse analyst and correlates it with the larger social structures. It is here that hermeneutics finds its due place in the form of evaluation under the backdrop of society.
During the close reading of the novel, some relevant paragraphs were randomly selected by the researcher for the sake of analysis and interpretation while using Fairclough’s (1989) Three Dimensional Model of CDA. Moreover, in the description stage of analysis, the text for interpretation is numbered and tagged with the names of devices according to the ten questions mentioned in the ‘description’ stage of Fairclough’s model, with the aim of better comprehension of the reader. Also, the interpreted novel text is put in quotation marks with bold fonts and italicized in interpretation and explanation stage, in order to separate it from general discussion. Contrary to Fairclough (1992) model, where the three stages in his model were separately analyzed, the research in hand has certain individuality. Among the three stages namely: description, interpretation, and explanation, I have used the last two together during analysis out of the reason that they both are inclusively dependent upon each other in an epistemological manner.
Patriarchal/Matriarchal Power Abuse in a Domestic Setting:
The passage is the site for the construction of power that is enjoyed by patriarchs. Sydney is invited by Mr. Edwards and his wife Mrs. Edwards to their home. Mrs. Edwards’ role like that of her husband is no less than a patriarch. She is matriarch and this power makes Sydney conscious of the fact that she has actually a greater role in controlling the business of the house. The spouses’ dominant role dominates Sydney who thinks herself no more than a servant girl in their house.
1. Mr. and Mrs. Edwards have invited Sydney … and your dad [italics original]. (Shreve, 2007: 7)
1. Mrs. Edwards: (Experiential value)
2. Anna: (Ideologically loaded word)
3. Invited: (Synonym or equivalent word consideration)
4. Anna and Mark: (Level of formality)
5. Call; Say; Words: (Collocations)
6. Stick in her throat: (Idiomatic quality of the words/ideologically loaded meaning)
7. Other ways: (Level of formality)
8. Husband; He; Dad: (Ideologically significant words)
9. Your husband; Your dad: (Politeness)
10. Your husband; He; Your dad: (Italics as a technical device has a purpose)
Interpretation and Explanation:
The extract is a piece from a discourse of power. Mr. and Mrs. Edwards and Sydney are involved in a discourse of power since Sydney’s position and social status is below to that of Edwardses. Edwardses are the owner of the house and they have supplied shelter to Sydney. Moreover, they pay Sydney i.e. the home tutor, for tuition. Edwardses’ position makes them superior to that of Sydney and therefore, she is obliged to listen to whatever they say and submit to it. The extract also advocates masculine power over feminine. Anna’s name is referred to as “Mrs. Edwards”. Her given name i.e. Anna could be used by the writer but she has avoided its use because of the experiential value that it has. It shows the necessary male domination and superiority over female. Patriarchal ideology has specified rules for address terms even. Females are recognized not by their own names but by the names of their husbands or fathers. In this case, Anna is recognized not as “Anna” i.e. an individual Anna, different from other namesakes, but as wife of “Edwards”. She is associated with her husband’s name and she loses her own identity. The inter-textual context provides us with the knowledge that in a situation where somebody (particularly a woman) is at the disposal of others, it becomes very difficult for her to follow her own likes and dislikes. She has to abide by the guidelines specified to her by those in power, under whom she has to work. Same is the case with Sydney. Despite the fact that Edwardses have “invited” her to address them by their given names, she finds it hard. Other synonym like the one ‘allowed’ could be used in place of “invited” but it would not serve the ideological purpose of the writer. ‘Allowed’ has the sense of an authority and Edwardses do not want to exert their authority over Sydney. “Invited” means, to say something formally and in an amiable way to somebody but due to her critical conditions, Sydney will not call them by their given names i.e. “Anna and Mark”. “Call”, “say”, and “words” are collocations, which refer to some behavior or action i.e. speaking, and they categorize the extract as an order of a discourse of authority. “Stick in her throat” is used in its idiomatic nature, which has an experiential value of its own. A literal equivalent of this idiom is ‘the words are impossible for her to say’ in place of “the words stick in her throat” but the literal use would not serve the ideological purpose of the writer. The ideology behind the use of the word “stick” is its meaning, purely in the literal sense which means ‘ensnare’ or ‘entangle’. ‘To ensnare/to entangle’ means a very difficult situation in which somebody wants to escape from a situation but despite his/her trying, s/he cannot do it. The writer gives us the ideological clue here for the importance of the word “stick” and we can imagine Sydney, standing in front of patriarchal owners who have power, authority, money, and are socially superior to her; growing pale and reluctant to call them by their given names. In no way is she ready to address them by their original names and that she tries to find out “other ways” to address the spouses. She is conscious of the higher social status of the spouses which gives them a class identity of their own far more superior to that of Sydney. Shreve is conscious of the oppressive nature of patriarchy. She makes Sydney her mouthpiece by representing patriarchal system and voicing women’s cause. The representation of voice is again two-fold. On the one hand, Shreve has made Sydney an actual sufferer in a patriarchal system. She is under the influence of well-to-do and socially stable patriarchs i.e. Edwardses, who provide her food, money, and shelter. In such a situation, women have no reason to oppose the wishes of such patrons. Women have to willy-nilly accept and obey the orders in a nuclear family like that of Edwardses’. If they oppose their wishes, they are turned out of the homes. Shreve, on the other hand voices the unjust patriarchal ideology by referring to Sydney’s conception of the use of words “husband”, “he”, and “dad”. Ideologically, these words are important as far as they promote patriarchal ideology of masculine idealization. These words gain even more ideological significance when used to refer to address somebody like “your husband” and “your dad”. Sydney thinks of the more polite address terms to refer to Mark as “your husband” in relation to Anna and as “your dad” to refer to him in relation to Julie, Ben, and Jeff. In place of uttering a married man’s original name, patriarchal scholarship and ideology have made women think that way, to refer to him as “your husband” and as “your dad” when they talk to his wife or children respectively. Socially, it is not acceptable for women to address an aged man by his original name. If at all women do so, they are regarded as ignorant, having no etiquettes. This ideology does not apply to men in general. Men have no such social rules for address terms. Such a social construction of polite rhetoric oppresses women as far as their public and professional life is concerned. It limits women’s independence in society since they have to follow man-made laws even in expression which is the right of every free human being. This social construction is shaped into a dominant ideology, which is to be followed only by women. Men are free from this and other like ideologies which are not in favor of their interests and which hit their ego. Putting the words “your husband”, “he”, and “your dad” in italics by the writer also have an ideological value. The writer wants to emphasize the fact of the accepted nature of reverence that is followed by women in patriarchal societies. Respect, reverence, care, and etiquettes are to be followed by women in speaking. Men do not and need not use them. Men, no matter how outspoken and blunt they may be, are accepted by patriarchy. There are no checks on them because they are ‘males’ and as such they have the natural right of superiority (Qureshi, 2014).
Women thought of as Sexual Objects in Men’s Psychology
This passage is the discursive construction of males’ psychology. It comprises of
the honor abuse that is socially permissible for men. In patriarchy, men have come up with the psychology of negative attitudes towards women. Sydney and Julie come across two boys in the way. They meet them and stand for while with them. Joe, one of the boys looks amorously at Julie from behind and Sydney can think of the sexual desires that foster towards Julie at that very moment.
2. ‘So … ‘, Joe says, apparently reluctant to move on … Ripe for the picking [italics in original]. (Shreve, 2007: 56)
(i) Reluctant: (Ideologically loaded word)
(ii) . . . : (Dots showing conversational gap)
(iii) Good luck with the gulf: (Wishing having dual ideological value)
(iv) Finality: (Allegorical word)
(v) Pass by: (Over wording)
(vi) Small wave: (Phrase having pragmatic value)
(vii) The lovely brown hair: (Presupposition)
(viii) Eighteen-year-old: (Adjectival-noun phrase/Presupposition)
(ix) Lets: (Modality)
(x) Ripe: (Symbolism)
(xi) Luscious: (Metaphor)
(xii) Picking: (Connotation)
(xiii) Luscious; Ripe for the picking: (Italics used with a practical purpose)
Interpretation and Explanation:
The extract is a psychological discourse of measuring the mental and psychological maturity of young men. Sydney and Julie are in conversation with two boys Joe and Nick who are already known to Julie. The discourse is ideologically important in the sense that it makes women alert against the amorous feelings of men towards the adolescent girls. It also works as the realization on part of young girls who should be aware of such boys about whom they do not know in detail. Often young girls are molested at the hands of those people about whose backgrounds they have not much knowledge. “Reluctant” is used ideologically by the writer to refer to Joe who does not want to go away and who wants to stay for a longer time to have a more detailed look of the physical features of Julie and probably of her buttocks. The conversational gap, shown by three dots “…” reveals that he does not want to end the conversation and wants to prolong the discussion because he is attracted by the (sexual) beauty of Julie. Sydney, on sensing the mischief at once takes the turn by saying “good luck with the golf!” It serves two purposes. On the one hand, it is used by Sydney subconsciously for the “finality” of conversation, to bring an end to the conversation and let Joe go his way. On the other hand, it is used to remind Joe of his original business for which he has come out i.e. playing golf. “Pass by” is an over-wording for ‘go’ which is its near synonym. Unlike ‘go’, it is used as an adverb with the ideological meaning of passing from one side of something to another. Joe, on passing by Julie, takes the minute examination of her body, which (he thinks) is very suitable to have sex with. The conversation would not be deficient if the phrase “small wave” was just not used by the writer. However, its employment has a certain pragmatic value since it refers to the filthy inclination of Joe towards Julie. He stealthily rears a sexual ambition towards Julie and he wants to be understood in some way by Julie. The slight waving of hand denoting ‘good by’ accompanied with meeting eyes is perhaps that “small wave” with which Joe informs Julie about his amorous intention. Julie also has some inclination (may not sexual) towards him because for a “minute” she is frozen to the place where she was standing, not moving the least. Joe’s description with “the lovely brown hair” is not out of purpose. It presupposes him to be a handsome boy of “eighteen-year-old” which might have been a definite motivating feature for Julie who is also a teenage girl. Teenage years are very important for adolescent youth. During this phase of life, all the faculties of mind and body are at their best. Particularly, the sexuality of young people is at its peak during this period. The young people, during this time, want the gratification of their sex to its fullest in all forms. Seduction, masturbation, rape, adultery, sadomasochism etc. are experienced during teenage years. It is natural that both Joe and Julie would have some sexual orientation towards each other. Sydney “lets Julie” to go. The use of verb phrase is ideologically important in dual ways. The logic behind its implication is that on the one hand Sydney is Julie’s teacher. She has greater knowledge and experience than Julie. She is both academically and spiritually superior to Julie who is obliged to follow her orders. So she waits until allowed by Sydney to go. On the other hand, Julie being a teenager also has some inclination towards Joe, and sticks to have the pleasure of her narcissism and flirt in front of a boy. Being a graduate student of psychology and having deep knowledge of “developmental psychology” (Shreve, 2007: 10), she has deep understanding of human nature. The extract is an excellent example of dual representation. On the one hand, it voices women’s taste in representing their own personal and individual psychology. Being the mouthpiece of the writer who is a woman, Sydney voices Shreve’s introspection. It is how writers give voice to their own ideologies about particular subjects in their writings. Shreve is conscious of the nature of young boys, who entangle innocent girls through their oily tongues by praising their beauty and style. Women, who always sincerely believe in whatever is told to them, become the target of men who molest them. On the other hand, it represents men and classifies them as a group who are responsible for corrupting women’s characters by indulging them in illicit and illegal businesses. Such women, who become victim of rascals, often become prostitutes in the end. They are manipulated and are led to brothels on one pretext or the other by men. Such men have no other business except molesting young girls and propelling them into the dirtiest job of prostitution. In Sydney’s notion, based on her beauty and physical features, men think of Julie’s body exuberant in sexual pleasure. She looks like a “ripe” fruit filled with sweet juice, which is ready to be plucked and eaten. It symbolically refers to the softness and hotness of Julie. This is the discourse of sex, which is bound up, with the description of sexual imagery. “Luscious” is metaphor used here ideologically to refer to the tender and tight body of Julie, whom men think has enough sexual taste. Teenagers, unlike other women, are capable of possessing greater sexual pleasure based on their age and virginity. The italics added to “luscious” and “ripe for the picking” serve an ideological purpose. They denote the connotative meanings of these words and emphasize their pragmatic value. Men prefer teenagers or younger women as compared to adult women. Teenagers or young women are also preferred on the basis of their ability to produce children more healthily and more rapidly than the aged or adult women. It is a medically proved fact and a common observation that women crossing the age of thirty are very difficult to impregnate. In great many cases, there is the danger of miscarriage and caesarian section. Such women often take fertility treatment because their natural fertility does not remain any more. So, according to Sydney, Julie too who is a teenager, will definitely be a great sexual appeal to men like Joe. She is beautiful, smart, and handsome and if she comes out of home alone, there remains no reason to suppose that she will not be raped by young men. To be smart is a natural process. It is not a sin or crime for women to be smart and come out of house for recreation like those of men. They also have the right for entertainment, sporting, hunting, recreation, biking etc. However, to go out of home for a young woman, is constructed discursively into an ideology which regards them having a loose character. Men believe such women to be prostitutes and on seeing them alone, chase them to fulfill their sexual business (Qureshi, 2014).
The conclusion section deals with the peroration concerning the research hypothesis that how the novelist (discourse producer) has presented the so-called legitimized vision of women oppression. Novelists write with a purpose and they make their work a site where various socio-political issues are emerged, constructed, and resisted by the discourse participants (readers). Same is the case here. The novelist has shown through various extracts that the reality behind the ideology of women oppression is not actually real but a constructed one. This is just the discursive construction of various roles on the basis of which women have been given a secondary role as compared to men and are placed in the class of oppressed. The analysis shows how this oppression of women was made real by establishing the verity of the so-called suppositions. The various ways in which women are put to oppression are the constructed notions which are given truth-value and hence credibility by men in various ways by making others to believe in them as given and predestined. The novelist has shown how men de(construct) various social conditions of women through powerful discursive strategies and keep them under their thumb. The novelist has given a potential voice to women by making her novel a platform where women can speak for their cause. She has negotiated a due place for them by covertly highlighting their roles and place in society through a thorough examination of male’s behavior and women’s resistance to it in multiple ways.
The analyzed passages indicate that it is the truth-requisite which is necessary for recognizing something true and legitimate. Sydney and Julie’s position is subordinate to that of the males’ i.e. Ben, Jeff and Mr. Edwards. It is the very discursive construction of the idea that there is always a broker (woman) behind every prostitute. The truth value in this idea is put by the blind following of the same as true and accurate without any attempt to challenge it. The recurrent following and authentication of this idea in society has given it a solid worth that it is ‘true’. Otherwise, there are many agencies active behind prostitution in the form of human trafficking, kidnapping, and child abuse. There is no reason to suppose that these agencies are all women-run or that all the members of these agencies are women. Men (more probably) are greater in number in this black business. But as discourse is the mixture of ideologies, being in the hands of men, it is more male-oriented in its philosophy. It will never let men down. The novelist, through her spokeswoman Sydney, highlights this so-called neutrality of women oppression by challenging the extraordinary privileges conferred upon men by themselves in the form of an established ideology of patriarchy.
Discourse or language as the presenter of ideologies provides its community members a site for the recognition and resistance of various ideologies thought as real. But, as in the negotiation, the recognition or resistance needs a stance on part of the members; it then becomes the business of power to play its vital part. Where there is power, there is language and vice versa. So, it is mainly language used powerfully which is responsible for labeling something as true or the otherwise. The female characters are oppressed on the basis of this power in language that male characters use to dominate them. Due to their supposed weaker social status like that of Sydney who is no more than a servant in the house of Edwardses, she accepts and takes for granted this ideology and is obliged to listen to Julie’s brothers Ben and Jeff. They suppose Sydney to be active behind Julie’s abduction and she silently abides by the blame. She inwardly considers herself to be responsible because of her weaker social status in a patriarchal atmosphere like Edwardses’ house. Therefore, Shreve’s Body Surfing (2007) as a written discourse can be regarded a powerful medium and site of social struggle for the verification of certain social constructions as ‘truth’ and legitimate in relation to one group despite the fact that are in the disfavor of the other.
The power active behind the verity of an ideology is necessarily discourse power or power in language. It is this power-reality dialectical relationship which makes something as true and real. Sydney’s hard times are natural. They are the outcome of her fate and destiny. But the way in which her sufferings are regarded as real are unjust. She is once divorced, once widowed, and once left unmarried on the very day of her engagement. All natural and transcendental happenings! But what if it is said that even this naturalness is at the hands of men? And yes it is. Every time, it is man, active behind her plight. Somewhere, it is nature, elsewhere it is stubbornness, and at other time it is suspicion, all fostered by some man. It is so because patriarchy and patriarchal ideology is the property of men. They dominate the world of patriarchy and do whatever they like. Due to this, certain ideologies like women oppression are consciously erected in the discomfort of women and are made real. Women, on the other hand are no less to blame in the recognition and verity of these like ideologies. They are helpless and at the mercy of men. They stimulate these ideologies by following them blindly, which is totally in their discomfort. They think that by doing so they are constructing new world (restructured ideologies) for them but as a matter of fact they are unconsciously promoting the truth of the existing ideologies. Referring to Britton, Spender (1998) writes about the constructed nature “creation” [italics in original] (p. 138) of ideologies; that such ideologies are not given, rather they manifest the active relationship between language and reality. Their truth and reality is no more than the truth-label added to them without any inherent truth. It means that we have specified certain preplanned rules for identifying something as true or real and according to those norms we accordingly judge the verity of ideas that is “what we see in the world around us depends in a large part on the principles we have encoded in our language”. Once, the nature of something is already encircled by language as real, it has no meaning and significance then, if it is not believed in later on. Shreve’s female characters Sydney and Julie in Body Surfing (2007) are the vital examples of legitimized oppression at the hands of men. They are deliberately made to believe in their weaker social status and inferior roles. What Sydney thinks of herself is not natural; rather it is the result of the environment that encircles her, aggravated by the ideological and discursive constructions of certain ideologies accepted as real and legitimate. This so-called and usual legitimization is further worsened and reproduced through the many intricate byways with the coating of ‘truth’ and reality and Shreve has adeptly dealt with the subject through exposing the constructed nature of the ideology of women oppression on the basis of their weaker social status.