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Written by Julia Wolf
A Mongolian mark (symbol)
A Mongolian mark is a symbol of innocence. This little “blue” spot is supposed to fade away at 5 or 6 years. When In-hye’s husband finds out that his sister-in-law might still have it, the man becomes obsessed with that rare combination of innocence and sexuality. “A Mongolian mark on her buttocks became inexplicably bound up with the image of men and women having sex.” However, it should be mentioned that the man doesn’t feel “such intense sexual desire” when he sees the blue mark on his son’s buttocks, for the blue spot on a child is a symbol of innocence, but the same blue spot on an adult woman or man is associated with sex.
Meat-eating is allegory of violence. To satisfy people’s need for meat, millions of animals have to die. This is an act of violence, for there is no way to kill humanely, one way or another, an animal is going to feel both fear and pain. When Yeong-hye’s father tries to force-feed her some meat, he has to strike her “in the face” to open her mouth. As the result, she cuts her wrist so deeply that “blood ribbons out of it.” No matter what, meat-eating is linked with blood.
A life crisis (motif)
Yeong-hye starts having terrible nightmares that make the woman change her lifestyle. She becomes “indifferent” to her husband, the society, food and whatnot. She is “ oblivious” to everything. It is not only Yeong-hye who changes her life. For instance, her always reasonable sister finds herself wanting “to stab herself in the eyes with her chopsticks, or pour boiling water from the kettle over her head.”
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