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Modern and Postmodern Subject Positions: Unreliable Narrators in The Good Soldier and The Sense of an Ending

Volume 6, Issue 6, December 2022    |    PP. 366-386    |PDF (293 K)|    Pub. Date: December 4, 2022
DOI: 10.54647/sociology84937    16 Downloads     221 Views  

Author(s)
Shahriar Khalili Mobarhan, PhD Candidate, University of Torin
Nahid Fakhrshafaie, Assistant Professor, Department of English Studies, Shahid Bahonar Univeristy of Kerman, Kerman, Iran
Rahimeh Rouhparvar, Assistant Professor, Department of English Studies, Shahid Bahonar Univeristy of Kerman, Kerman, Iran

Abstract
The present study aims to study unreliable narrators in Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending and Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier. As Barnes prompts the reader to read his novel in the light of Ford's novel, a comparison between Barnes's unreliable narrator and Ford's unreliable narrator proves inevitable. This study examines the differences between the unreliable narrator of a modern novel and that of a postmodern novel to see if these differences could be accounted for by the fundamental differences between modernism and postmodernism. In order to see how subject positions reflect social orders, this study draws on the theoretical backgrounds of modernism and postmodernism and the debate between Habermas and Lyotard. It studies modernism in the light of fragmentation, scientific method the simultaneous rejection and invocation of the past and relates postmodernism to fluid identity, the uncertainty of history and anti-humanism. This study concludes that John Dowell represents all the certainty of an individual who has a comfortable self- image and knows everything about himself, the people around him and the world in which he lives, while Tony Webster is a postmodern fractured character who is split between his younger self and older self, unable to tell fact from fiction. The postmodern unreliable narrator undermines the notion of personal and historical knowledge. In spite of all his defects and uncertainties, Tony Webster is more sympathetic than Dowell because he does not try to manipulate the reader. He does not want to record the past objectively, but reminds us that history is a construction.

Keywords
modernism, postmodernism, subject positions, unreliable narrator

Cite this paper
Shahriar Khalili Mobarhan, Nahid Fakhrshafaie, Rahimeh Rouhparvar, Modern and Postmodern Subject Positions: Unreliable Narrators in The Good Soldier and The Sense of an Ending, SCIREA Journal of Sociology. Vol. 6 , No. 6 , 2022 , pp. 366 - 386 . https://doi.org/10.54647/sociology84937

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