Breaking the Silence: Woman As a Subject in Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls

Altın M.

DTCF Dergisi, vol.61, no.2, pp.841-863, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 61 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.33171/dtcfjournal.2021.61.2.9
  • Journal Name: DTCF Dergisi
  • Journal Indexes: Central & Eastern European Academic Source (CEEAS), MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Page Numbers: pp.841-863
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: Yes


Pat Barker’s latest novel The Silence of the Girls (2018) retells the events taking place in The Iliad from the perspective of Briseis, Achilles’ bed-slave. The aim of this paper is to analyse The Silence of the Girls in the light of écriture feminine, a term coined by Hélène Cixous in her essay, “The Laugh of Medusa” first published in 1975. It is found out that in her novel, The Silence of the Girls, Barker foregrounds the notions of the female body, female voice and experience, and thus, problematises the dominant and hegemonic systems of representation in language and culture by focusing on the female body, female voice and experience. Moreover, this study asserts that the concept of bisexuality, one of the important features of écriture feminine, is also evident in the novel as the author also writes from the perspectives of male characters, Achilles and Patroclus. In that sense, the depiction of male perspective and experience also helps to challenge and undermine the notions of heroism and masculinity that are one of the most persisting elements in Western myths and culture. It is concluded that The Silence of the Girls challenges and debunks the age-old patriarchal systems of representation that subdue the female body, voice, perspective and experience by proposing a new kind of female subjectivity that frustrates the phallocentric representations of female characters in the works of literature drawing their sources from myths, age-old cultural assumptions and practices.