The Truman Show Carmen
The Truman Show Carmen Machado’s Her Body And Other Parties stories offers a variety of short stories that represent different themes, discourses, ideologies and more pertaining to theories. Machado’s first story “The Husband Stitch” provides mystery, sex, symbolism, imagery, and much more. Regarding theories, The Husband Stitch can be applied to a variety of theories; especially that of Louis Althusser’s Ideology and Ideological State Apparatus. A materialist reading of The Husband Stitch shows how the use of ideology and interpellation give the narrator a false sense of control in a world with pre-existing ideology where the male population benefits more rather than gender equality. In Marxist theory, Althusser introduces the concept of interpellation which expresses the idea that an idea is not simply yours alone but rather an idea that has already been presented to individuals to accept as their own in the sense it is “natural” and “obvious.” Interpellation occurs during the process of hailing. From a materialist reading, the narrator believes that she has an identity and is more than just a wife. However, during the birth of her son, she is treated as nothing more than an object. An example of this is after the birth of her son, the doctor and her husband stand over her vulnerable objectified body. The husband jokes in a humorous manner if the doctor offers an “extra stitch” referring to her cut after giving birth. They stand over her partially sedated body, exposed to viewing her as an object, a body, insensitive to criticism. The extra stitch referring to an extra stitch given during the repair process after a vaginal birth; which serves to tightening the vagina-thus increasing the pleasure of their male sexual partners, which the doctor replies with, “You aren’t the first,” further implying the selfish actions of husbands and how males will eventually benefit from such procedures as these. This is followed by a medical bill as a monetary exchange for the hospital treating the patient. In the perspective of interpellation humans are simply objects, nothing more than a body stripped of intellectual and emotional aspects with the false sense of a personal ideology in a world that already has an implemented pre-existing ideology. In Louis Althusser’s Ideology and Ideological State Apparatus, he concludes that “Ideology is a “representation” of the Imaginary Relationship of Individuals to their Real Conditions of Existence.” Ideology is a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, a group or culture. Althusser discusses how an ideology exists in an apparatus, and how this existence is material. In The Husband Stitch, with only women being born with ribbons, the narrator seems attached to her green ribbon on her neck and refuses its absence. Though there is an aura of ambiguity and mystery surrounding the ribbon and its symbolism, it holds significance of idealism for the narrator. It holds an ideology of identity based on her actions and looking at it from a materialist perspective. A ribbon in its true form is simply a string of variety sizes; it usually carries a positive connotation such as being attached to gifts which can also be objectified in a materialist perspective. The narrator idealizes the ribbon as her identity because of her attachment to it, where in the beginning she told her future husband when he asked about the ribbon that, “There’s nothing to tell. It’s my ribbon” (Machado 6). It is hers, yet, the husband continuously disregards her rights for his own selfish gains. The narrator throughout The Husband Stitch lacks expression and fails to demonstrate hints of her characteristics, other than the fact that she is a mother, loves her husband and has an appetite for sex. As a mother and wife, it seems she is selfless in her actions; but her attachment to her ribbon on is one of her most consistent habit. Going back to when first meeting her husband, she refuses her ribbon being touched by saying, “You shouldn’t touch it”[...] “You can’t touch it” (Machado 4). Ultimately, the husband’s displeasure for his wife’s actions in keeping the ribbon on illustrates itself by his actions. He reminds the narrator that the duty of a wife is to please him by not keeping “secrets from her husband” to which she replies there are no secrets, just that the ribbon “isn’t” his. The narrator eventually falls into the inevitable fate of giving in to her husband’s greedy desire in untying the ribbon off her neck, the aftermath is an empty women devoid of what was rightfully hers. This shows how a pre-existing ideology benefits the husband more compared to the narrator even after she gave him everything he’s asked for. The narrator constant presence of her ribbon gave her the false notion of control and individualism, yet in the grand scheme of things, she realized ideologies beyond her control were already implemented to please the male population more then those of women. In conclusion, from a materialist perspective, Althusser uses interpellation to present the idea that an idea alone is not exclusively owned by an individual but rather it is there for them to accept it as their own under the notion of it being natural. Through interpellation, the narrator in The Husband Stitch is objectified at the hospital during and after the birth of her son, which further illustrates that the narrator has a false sense of control. Althusser mentions how ideology has a material existence and, in The Husband Stitch it comes in the form of a ribbon. From a materialist reading, the ribbon is an object, yet, it represents the ideology of identity for the narrator based on her actions. Throughout the span of their marriage, the narrator refuses the absence of her ribbon, while the husband’s desire to untie the ribbon grows. In the end, the false sense of control and identity of the narrator comes to an end when she allows the ribbon to be untied. In result, an empty women replaces her, and the greedy nature of her husband prevails. Though the narrator’s body and her green ribbon can be objectified in a materialist perspective, the end results implied that the narrator carried a false sense of control of her own being, not realizing that ideologies were already implemented and more likely than not, these ideologies benefitted the male population than those of women.