Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Jie Guo

Abstract

This thesis looks at Taiwanese author Wu Ming-Yi’s 吳明益 2015 novel The Stolen Bicycle (Danche shiqie ji 單車失竊記) and argues that it contests the dichotomous

framework assumed in Taiwanese postcolonial theories by revealing contextualized and intertwined complexities. Taiwanese postcolonial literary theorists have been relying on dichotomies, such as perpetrators versus victims and colonizers versus the colonized, to understand Taiwanese colonial and postwar history. These dichotomies produce ways of identarian standoff that are overly simplified by socio-cultural, political or linguistic differences. These dichotomies are useful from a structuralist perspective in literary theories; yet, they are unable to account for the subtle and complex power dynamics among the diverse groups in a postcolonial context. In Chapter One, I argue that The Stolen Bicycle provides an alternative to such dichotomies. Several characters in The Stolen Bicycle are uninterested in placing themselves in the victimized position and they accept unfortunate events as they are. Acceptance of this sort is often ignored in the postcolonial dichotomous thinking, which tends to construct a clear-cut power stand off between perpetrators and victims. Postcolonial dichotomy is therefore challenged by victims resiliently handling the abuses they experienced rather than launching direct rebellions. In Chapter Two, I argue that The Stolen Bicycle makes us reflect on the anthropocentric tendencies in postcolonial studies. Deliberately taking up the environmentalist perspective, this novel considers the subjugation of the non-human during the colonial period, with focus on butterflies and elephants. In Chapter Three, I argue that the novel’s environmentalist perspective suggests symbiosis as an alternative to dichotomy in postcolonial theories. Symbiosis is embodied by the image of the bike- embracing tree toward the end of the novel. The novel proposes a sustainable relationship among human beings and between humans and the environment; this proposal brings postcolonialism beyond its structural, dichotomous and essentialist basis.

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