Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

East Asian Studies


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair and Committee

Rebecca Copeland


This thesis examines womenΓÇÖs strategies of ΓÇ£silenceΓÇ¥ and ΓÇ£borrowed voicesΓÇ¥ as observed in ΓÇ£Skeletons of MenΓÇ¥ written by Enchi Fumiko: 1905-1986). Enchi deconstructs the reified image of women passed down through history by showing how the male-centered Japanese society whether deliberately or unwittingly distorted and manipulated the images of women to its taste. In the story, Enchi describes most of the female characters as marked by a ΓÇ£double existenceΓÇ¥: externally gentle but internally sturdy. This double existence characterizing female characters can be seen as a consequence of the interaction between their internal grievance against patriarchy and external oppressions on their socio-cultural conditions. Despite the socio-cultural changes that the Meiji Restoration engendered, Enchi suggests that it did not produce considerable changes in womenΓÇÖs lives. Women in Japan still had to lead their lives within traditional societal norms because the patriarchal system continued to wield a dominant influence on their lives, suppressing women and their freedom of expression. In the story, Enchi shows that silence and borrowed voices can be a defensive but effective strategy to express female resistance to such a social system. Silence and borrowed voices enable women to exist in a ΓÇ£boundaryΓÇ¥ position between submission and resistance. Using this strategy, women are able to express their concealed desires for challenging the male-centered society, and they communicate with one another in their marginalized world. In this regard, I argue that the repressed women in EnchiΓÇÖs story are actually active and strong in that they successfully create alternative channels of communication to express their suppressed desires and resolute determination. In conclusion, Enchi shows not only womenΓÇÖs critical awareness of suppression imposed on them by the patriarchal society but also their silent but relentless efforts to challenge this male domination.


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