Journey of Denial, Acceptance and Transformation: Discovering Meaning in Han Kang’s ‘The Vegetarian’


The term "trauma" pertains to events or circumstances that elicit significant emotional distress. It surpasses an individual's capacity to handle the situation and causes them to feel powerless. Trauma thus affects an individual's identity and is highly personal, being shaped by various elements. The Protagonist Yeong-hye in Han-Kang's novel The Vegetarian (2007) defies societal norms by adopting vegetarianism, ultimately resulting in a transition in her Identity. The three parts of the novel deal with, firstly, her choice to abstain from consuming meat creates a consequential impact on her family. Secondly, her desire to become like a plant, thirdly Yeong-hye being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. The narration of various characters in the three parts of the novel provides a deeper understanding of the protagonist Yeong-hye. This paper adopts the methodology of Cathy Caruth's phenomenal work unclaimed experiences (1996) to study trauma through narration in literature, with the interconnection of Affect theory to study Yeong-hye’s demeanor. The methodology will help in understanding the impact trauma has on a character's behavior. Throwing light on denial, acceptance, and transformation. The paper aims to analyze Yeong-hye's resistance and redefinition of her Identity from fragments into whole through traumatic encounters and create a new meaning of being human.

Author Information
Oshin John, Manipal University Jaipur, India
Richa Arora, Manipal University Jaipur, India

Paper Information
Conference: KAMC2023
Stream: Gender

This paper is part of the KAMC2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
John O., & Arora R. (2023) Journey of Denial, Acceptance and Transformation: Discovering Meaning in Han Kang’s ‘The Vegetarian’ ISSN: 2436-0503 – The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture 2023: Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon