Stigmatized Faces And Identities In Cecile Pineda’s Face And Ariel Dorfman’s Mascara
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In this study, the major characters in Cecile Pineda’s Face and Ariel Dorfman’s Mascara who are excluded from their social environment because of their facial disfigurement are analyzed within the framework of Erving Goffman’s “stigma theory.” Goffman defines the concept of “stigma(tization)” as a process of disqualifying people when their physical and/or moral characteristics fall outside the standards of society. Helio Cara in Face and the unnamed narrator in Mascara are characters stigmatized by the majority who deem themselves to be “normal.” These characters are exposed to humiliating and degrading treatment that greatly limits their life choices. The creation and maintenance of stigma points to a more complicated process that involves power dynamics. Power acts through a system of norms that mediate knowledge about oneself and others. In this sense, the construction of stigma as an inferior social category and the classification of people according to it is closely related to the relations of power which penetrate people’s lives in a range of social institutions such as language, knowledge, and the law. Similarly, these novels are preoccupied with the power relations that govern relationships among subjects and encourage them to occupy the stigmatized role prescribed to them by society. Through his critical ideas on the formation of the subject, Jacques Lacan draws attention to an existential lack and a necessary split in the individual in the process of his/her becoming a social and cultural subject. The subject’s tendency to conform to the norms of society is closely intertwined with a continuous “desire” that arises in relation to this existential lack. This lack also leads subject to be a part of the symbolic “Other” of society, which is presented to the subject much like an ideal with which to identify in order to be a full-fledged human being. For the stigmatized characters in this study, the burden based on this lack is doubled because they lack both in being and in the face, the most critical body part in assigning identity to an individual. Because of socially constructed realities and widely practiced methods, Helio Cara in Face and the unnamed narrator in Mascara turn out to be victims of societies taking normative models as points of reference. Exceptionally, however, instead of embracing representations of their stigmatized identities, Helio Cara and the unnamed narrator manage to find a way to overcome their so-called difference and outsider status, which ultimately positions them outside the restrictive definitions regarding stigma.