ABSTRACT. Han Kang’s novel explores the relevance of food choices and eating habits to the articulation of gender relations and power structure in a family environment. The heroine’s vegetarianism and then anorexia, accompanied by escapist fantasies of withdrawal from the symbolic order of conformity and submission defining a patriarchal society, her quiet “rebellion,” which constitutes an assertion of autonomy, is subdued by literal and symbolic violence. Family and psychiatric hospital, the main settings for the action, represent places of normalisation, where the recalcitrant vegetarian and anorexic body is controlled and disciplined.

Keywords: Han Kang; The Vegetarian; eating disorder; patriarchy; gender; madness

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Stefan cel Mare University,
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures;
Suceava, Romania

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