Body and Nature as Signifying System in A Thousand Acres

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Body and Nature as Signifying System in A Thousand Acres The female body, in literature as in other texts, functions as a kind of signifying system; a site of continuous signification. Traditionally, this has been understood in terms of transposing patriarchal or even misogynist cultural values onto the construction of the female body. In A Thousand Acres, however, Smiley turns this around. Just as this novel tries to gain control of the discourse of King Lear, and of metaphors of women therein, it also foregrounds the body as a textual matrix through which the subject can understand herself and the world. For Ginny Cook, social interaction escapes the realm of language, because so much of what is going on is hidden and because Larry is this silent signifier that only has to be to signify. Instead, she processes the information bodily. Thinking of Caroline's snubbing of her sisters when getting married, Ginny "realized that I felt the insult physically, an internal injury." (139) Later, shame, one of the feelings most often arising in Ginny with impetu...

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