Malai Sam Chai: Self-Contradiction in the Representation of Women's New Values

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Athiporn Prathuangset

Abstract

Abstract


Recounting the life of a heroine who marries three men, V. Vinicchayakul’ Malai Sam Chai (A Three-tasseled Garland) is one of her well-known Thai historical novels. While the novel attempts to refute one of the old ideas which condemns a woman who marries three men and promote the new values of women in modern Siamese context, this article aims to argue that the author’s idea about good women of modern days seems to be self-contradictory. It is found that the novel reproduces the concept of ‘Kulasatree’ (Ideal women), including the concept of being born of noble family, being a good housewife, and the faithfulness to husband. Various strategies are used to represent this idea. Firstly, the author woman protagonist La-or-orn was characterized as a ‘conservatively-modernist woman’. Secondly, a woman antagonist Thongpairam was portrayed as morally bad woman in characters, comparing to those of La-or-orn. Lastly, the Siamese Revolution of 1932, a momentous historical event against which the author seems to be, was adopted in the novel to create Lo-or-orn’s second marriage life. This novel, accordingly, seems not to go beyond the traditional idea about good woman. By adopting the sociology of literature as theoretical framework, it is found that four contributary factors are responsible for this self-contradiction. The first factor lies in the author’s traditionalist attitude toward the desired woman value. Another factor could be the author’s elder lady, whose biography impressed her and inspired the characterization of La-or-orn. The setting is the third factor. The reading circle of the novel, which seems to be the middle-class women whose taste and ideology are common, could be another key to the success of the novel.

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Prathuangset อ. (2021). Malai Sam Chai: Self-Contradiction in the Representation of Women’s New Values. Wiwitwannasan Journal of Language and Culture, 5(2), 25–54. Retrieved from https://so06.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/wiwitwannasan/article/view/248705
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Academic articles / Research articles

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