School of English Literatures and Philosophy


This thesis compares representation and resistance of Javanese and Aboriginal women depicted in Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s The Girl from the Coast and Katharine Susannah Prichard’s Coonardoo. The thesis argues that colonisation in patriarchal Indonesia and Australia intensifies women’s subordination. While there is a huge difference between the colonial histories of these countries as well as between the cultures of Javanese and Aborigines, patriarchal and colonial experiences resonate quite similarly. The thesis shows how two dissimilar contexts can be brought into dialogue by applying a feminist-postcolonial theoretical frame to both novels. General concepts of identity, resistance, and subalternity are employed to investigate how female characters deal with identity construction and subjugation in these patriarchal colonial systems. In the novels commoner and Aborigine become almost, but not quite ‘members’ of the dominant group. Yet, no matter how thoroughly they are immersed and ‘expert’ in what is expected of them, they will always be considered second class. The thesis shows that at some points, the main female characters show compliance but in their own particular ways they also challenge this domination. The resistance of the Girl toward upper-class’ values is stronger than Coonardoo’s toward the white values. Pramoedya writes about Javanese women as a Javanese, yet Prichard’s white background limits her ability to champion the Aboriginal cause and to depict a resistant character.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.