Original Research

Hands as markers of fragmentation

A. Barnard, J-L Kruger
Literator | Vol 26, No 2 | a226 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v26i2.226 | © 2005 A. Barnard, J-L Kruger | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 July 2005 | Published: 31 July 2005

About the author(s)

A. Barnard, School of Languages, Vaal Triangle Campus, North-West University, South Africa
J-L Kruger, School of Languages, Vaal Triangle Campus, North-West University, South Africa

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Margaret Atwood is an internationally read, translated, and critiqued writer whose novels have established her as one of the most esteemed authors in English (McCombs & Palmer, 1991:1). Critical studies of her work deal mainly with notions of identity from psychoanalytical perspectives. This study has identified a gap in current critical studies on Atwood’s works, namely the challenging of textual unity which is paralleled in the challenging of the traditional (single) narrative voice. The challenging of textual unity and the single narrative voice brings about the fragmentation of both. This article will focus on the role that hands play as markers of fragmentation in “The Blind Assassin” (2000). In the novel, the writing hand destabilises the narrative voice, since it is not connected to the voice of a single author. If the author of the text – the final signified – is eliminated, the text becomes fragmentary and open, inviting the reader to contribute to the creation of meaning. Hands play a signficant role in foregrounding the narrator’s fragmented identity, and consequently, the fragmentation of the text. We will investigate this concept in the light of Roland Barthes’ notion of the scriptor, whose hand is metaphorically severed from his or her “voice”. Instead of the text being a unified entity, it becomes unstable and it displays the absence of hierarchical textual levels. Based mainly on Barthes’ writings, this article concludes that hands foreground the narrator’s fragmented identity, which is paralleled in the fragmented text.


Ambiguous Narrative Voice; Margaret Atwood; The Blind Assassin; Fragmentation; Postmodern Fiction; Scriptable Writerly Text


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Crossref Citations

1. From an Obscured Gaze to a Seeing Eye? Iris as Victim, Villain, and Avenger in the Role of Writer-as-Assassin in Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin
Tara Hembrough
SAGE Open  vol: 7  issue: 1  first page: 215824401668893  year: 2017  
doi: 10.1177/2158244016688933