"The Frames of War" and the Postwar Ethical Relations: War Narratives in Wu Ming-Yi's Novels

  • 蔡 佩容

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Discussed through the concept claimed by Judith Butler, Frames of war, this thesis takes two war narratives novels, Routes in the Dream and The Stolen Bicycle, written by Wu Ming-Yi as main object and discuss how Taiwan reproduced frames of war after World War II (WWII). Also, we discuss the influences of the moral relationships of Taiwan after-war brought by the restructure of Taiwan history in the novels.
The missing or dead characters in the family were influenced by the frames of war of Japanese colonial period. This generation is also excluded from the frames of war constructed by Republic of China (R.O.C.) and has become subjects that are loss and not grievable, which symbolized the history and historical memories of Japanese colonial period has been excluded from the R.O.C. national narrative context. In the meantime, by conflicts between generations of families and the different war experience between different ethnic groups in Taiwan, Wu Ming-Yi points out that the reason which caused the emotional barrier and differentiation is the different experience structure. The frames of war has categorized lives in a way that is unfair and the novel has seen the 228 Incident as a war heritage. He represents a society in Taiwan which was still dominated by the frames of war even when the war has ended. However, through the trip of the narrator in the novels, finding his father and his bicycle and the process writing down the memories of history of the war generations, Wu Ming-Yi restructures Taiwan history, looses the frames of war and provides an imagination of the postwar ethic relationships for the generations between families and ethnic groups to understand and forgive each other. On one hand, Wu implies that the discovery of history and the restructure of Taiwan history could bring changes for the ethic relationships; on the other hand, he suggests that the frames of war existed in Taiwan, which is full of opposition, makes using reconciliation as way of restructure “postwar” more difficult.
In the last part of the thesis, it is suggested that, through Wu Ming-Yi’s war narratives novels, Taiwan should escaped away from the domination of the frames of war and build a “postwar” society which can accommodate different generations and ethnic groups after the restructure of the history. What matters more is the novel characters that has built close relationships in the end and the postwar imagination with understanding and reconciliations. Taiwan, in the meanwhile, should start thinking what to do to face the era when the “postwar” ends and build new ethic relationships.
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAndrea Mei-Ying Wu (Supervisor)

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