Briefly, we talked in class on Friday about Kori saying his mother was “a good woman”, and the varying things that could mean – is Sojin wrong about how he killed her? Does he regret doing so? Is he only saying it to manipulate Sojin?

There’s some kind of connection I’m trying to make in my head between this declaration and the fact that Sojin’s mother died in a fire… Violence against sex workers is devastatingly common in literature/film (as it is in real life), but usually it’s portrayed in the context of the shock value of a disfigured body. Speaking more broadly, and as I think we also discussed in class, sex and (violent) death are quite often narratively connected for women in fiction.

Between this convention and the archetype of fire as something that can cleanse or purify through the means of destruction… is there the potential to argue the significance of Sojin believing Kori to have killed his mother through fire, something that has the capacity to destroy the body completely rather than leaving one behind? Could she subconsciously (or Kori, if he really did kill her) view this as a purifying act? Can Kori’s mother only be ‘good’ once she’s dead, and once her body, which her society sees as ‘unclean’, is destroyed without a trace? Is the absence of Kori’s mother (and of her body) what can redeem her memory?

Somewhat in connection to this, the wider society of the island clearly kills the fire that kills Kori’s mother and her neighborhood as a purifying act. Whether Kori can be argued to believe this, or whether Sojin aligns with it somehow through ascribing the action to Kori… I don’t know. But I do know I’m now very sad about the politics of women’s bodies and sexuality.

An unsettling thought about Faces to the Fire

One thought on “An unsettling thought about Faces to the Fire

  • October 24, 2019 at 5:41 am

    I like the idea, well not “like ” because it actually makes me really sad, of fire as a purifying death because I hadn’t really thought about it in that way. It makes sense though if we agree that Kori did indeed kill his mother, that he would view her absence as a purification of his life because of the way they were perceived because of her profession and because of how he got bullied. All of that makes me immensely sad: that he got bullied in the first place, that they were perceived in such a negative light, that Kori felt like his mother’s death would somehow fix things… I just… all of it is so sad. But I do think this idea of purifying by fire makes sense.

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