The Vegetarian Essay Questions

Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Explain the title of the novel.

    The title of the novel is a reference made to the main character, Yeong-hye, who decides to become a vegetarian. The main character lives in Seoul and her family unit is presented as being an extremely traditional one where the father or the patriarch always has the final say. By becoming a vegetarian, Yeong-hye sets herself apart from the rest of the family and becomes an outsider because she is no longer able to participate in various social gatherings where eating meat is something to be expected. Thus, apart from being a reference made to the main character's decision not to eat meat, the title is also a reference made to the alienation Yeong-hye feels as a result of choosing to live a different lifestyle when compared to her family.

  2. 2

    What does the fact that Yeong-hye refuses to wear a bra represents?

    At the beginning of the novel, Yeong-hye is described by her husband as being the perfect wife, someone who is obedient and who always does what is told. The husband remarks however that his wife refuses to wear a bra, claiming that it makes her uncomfortable and it makes her feel strange. The fact that Yeong-hye refuses to wear a bra is seen here as a way through which the young woman resists the social norms generally accepted in traditional Korean society.

  3. 3

    What does the fact that Yeong-hye ends up in a hospital represent?

    Towards the middle of the novel, because of her refusal to eat meat, Yeong-hye ends in the hospital in a grave state cause by a lack of proper nutrition. The situation is quite critical and the doctors try to force-feed Yeong-hye through a tube inserted in her nose. the fact that Yeong-hye ends up in the hospital is seen as clear proof that her lifestyle was not compatible with the society in which she lived. Thus, Yeong-hye risks losing her life because she is unable to conform to the social norms universally accepted by everyone around her.

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