Childhood and the Non-Human in Modern Scottish Novels

Jihan Zakarriya, Dr., lecturer
Department of the English Language and Literature
Beni-Suef University, Egypt
e-mail: jihan_zakarriya@hotmail.com


This paper provides a postcolonial-ecocritical reading of Scottish novelists Neil Gunn’s “The Green Isle of the Great Deep” (1944) and Sue Sexton’s “Mavis’s Shoes” (2011). It specifically focuses on the representation of the concepts of childhood, identity and space in the two novels as symbolized in the experiences of nine-year-old Art in “The Green Isle of the Great Deep” and nine-year-old Lenny in “Mavis’s Shoes”. The paper argues that since “Mavis’s Shoes” and “The Green Isle of the Great Deep” represent the psycho-cultural, environmental and social effects of the Clydebank Blitz and Nazi violence against Scotland during the Second World War, they not only question Scotland’s position as a distressed nation recovering war traumas and mobilizing a palpable resistance against obvious forms of colonial violence, but also explore the complicated, hierarchical relationship between human beings and authorities on the one side and between human beings and nature on the other. This paper examines Gunn’s and Sexton’s representations of the Nazi violence and atrocities experienced by Scottish characters in the selected novels. It argues that the two novels memorize the victims and their personal sufferings as a shared memory resistant to erasure and offer a public reading of Scotish national experience and of changes under Nazi attacks. It argues further that although the two novels deal with the Nazi violence differently as Sexton’s narration of Nazi attacks on Clydebank Blitz resonates with contemporary participation of Scottish troops in wars on Iraq and Afghanistan while Gunn uses myth to reflect on Scottish cultural identity under intense forms of imperialist competition between the UK and Germany, the two novelists articulate a particular awareness of the everlasting, devastating effects of western imperialism on the environment and human relations in modern Scotland.

Keywords: postcolonial ecocriticism, Scottish novel, environment, non-human, childhood, identity, space


How to cite:
Zakarriya, J. (2019). “Childhood and the Non-Human in Modern Scottish Novels.” Journal of Comparative Studies 12 (41), 26–47.