Today, I will be presenting on Shackles as a follow up on Careen’s presentation last week. Sorry, I was not able to present any earlier because of some personal matters. I would Like to start with a brief Introduction on what makes Shackles a unique novel in Indonesian literature. Shackles can be viewed as a piece of modern literature as it drifts away from the traditional mode of form and expression. It is Indonesian first psychological novel which focuses on the thoughts, feelings and motivations of the characters.
Ellipses and rhetorical questions are used o replace a large proportion of descriptive writing and readers are drawn towards the psychological conflicts faced by the characters. A novel which focuses on the moral dilemma and internal struggles of the characters is revolutionary In the history of Indonesian literature. At that time, Indonesian novels focused on traditional themes where the good protagonist would triumph over an evil antagonist whereas in Shackles, it is not clear as to whether the characters are good or bad and if their actions are right or wrong.
Traditional novels were centered on conflicts between people of deferent generations or problems that followed from forced marriages. Instead, Shackles focused on the social taboo of prostitution and adultery, which Is common in Western literature but unheard of amongst Indonesian who are accustomed to idealized literature. This struck controversy in the general Indonesian populace as these acts were not condemned but were instead, portrayed as a facet of life. Interestingly, Arming does not present solutions to the problems raised.
There is no clear resolution at the end of the novel as readers are left with more questions Han answers. I I would like to discuss the reasons for the marital conflict between Tin and Ton. This conflict arises Now, from the unexpressed expectations that they have of each another. For instance, Tons expectations of Tin fall within the traditional value system where it is the duty of a wife to ensure the comfort of her husband. Yah fulfils Ton’s desire by kneeling and taking his shoes off him as a way of showing her devour and loyalty.
For so long, Ton had wanted to be taken care of in this very manner by Tin. However, Tin’s et of expectations is framed in the context of the western value system where she expects Ton to show that he cares for her. Neither of them articulate their expectations of one another. Tint refuses to be the one to give In and Ton misunderstands her actions as being nonchalant and disinterested In the relationship. Their relationship disintegrates as they wait upon one another to give in.
There is very little interaction between the two characters throughout the novel and we only see a proper conversation between Tint and Ton in the last chapter. The novel focuses on the internal conflict within Ton and Tin as opposed to the conflict between them. There is no confrontation between the two about Yah and until at the end of the novel, Ton does not seem to know that Tin Is fully aware of Hash’s existence. Secondly, I would like to focus on the differing attitudes towards marriage. Modernity is seen from the ability of a woman to leave her marriage. This is unheard of in the traditional context of Indonesia.
Western education has a big influence on the modernization of Indonesia but it is important that we do not conflate modernity with the West and radiation with the East. In Tint’s letter to Tat’, she mentions that women of today have two choices when it comes to marriage whereas there used to be only one in the past. Tin mentioned that women with the courage to differ from the route of marriage would be pushed and driven back until she followed the proper path for women. Modern heroism is seen in Tin as she is willing to die to defend that freedom of choice for women to be single.
Tin knows that if she does not fight against societal expectations, she will be absorbed into her gender role. These societal expectations of women is perpetuated by women themselves as seen from Ms Russia who represents the voice of the majority of women who do not desire for that freedom because they believe that it is a woman’s duty to serve her husband. Ms Russia expresses that she would rather stay home if her husband does not have time for her whereas Tin finds her home stifling and is free only when she is outside of her home.
Ms Russia condemns the behavior of Tin and this inability for women to reconcile the differences in the traditional and modern mindsets draws upon a larger home and that is, the lack of support and solidarity amongst women. Throughout the novel, women are portrayed to be Jealous of the success of other women. They gossip about one another and they view other women as competitors. Instead of feeling a sense of pride for Tint’s accomplishments as a woman at the piano recital, the women in particular were displeased with her performance.
Keratin was upset when a male friend of hers complimented the beauty of Tint. Yah expressed a similar sentiment as she told Ton that a woman does not like to hear another woman being praised. Amine is also Jealous of Tin as Ton had chosen to take Tin as his wife instead. The lack of solidarity amongst women as seen from the examples mentioned hinders the progress of women. It is especially difficult for women like Tin to pursue their freedom when they do not receive support from their female counterparts. ! Theme that resonates throughout the novel is the fear of being left behind.
Ton makes a conscious Another effort to read his medical Journals everyday so as to keep up with the advancement in medicine in fear of being left behind. Similarly, Yah expressed the same fear as she as afraid to be left behind as the boat of dreams was soon departing the port of life for Cape Hope. Yah did not want to have to share the same fate as the prostitutes at Prior Harbor who are left behind as society progresses, hopeless and without the strength to guide themselves in the future. At the end of the novel, Tin chooses to leave for Curably because she fears to be left behind by Ton who eventually. What are the characters shackled by? Tint, Ton and Yah are shackled by their past experiences which So continue to shape their thoughts and actions in the present. In the words of Wharton, unmans are inherently held back by their struggles in the past. Tin is unable to remove the shackles of her past as she is scarred from her relationship with Wharton. She lives with the shame of having lost her virginity to him. As a result, she loses the power to love and her ability to feel for Ton. This motivates Ton to seek refuge in Yah for love and affection.
Wharton urges Tin to remove the shackles and forget the past. Yet, forgetting the past is not a decision that can be consciously made by a person. It happens subconsciously over time. Ton, on the other hand, is in love with Yah but is constantly haunted by Tint’s voice and image. His attempts to unshackle himself of his relationship with Tin culminates in his silent screams of “Go away! Die! ” It is not until both Tin and Yah decide to leave that Ton finds himself free of the bindings that had fettered his thoughts and dreams.
At the end of the novel, Ton leaves Hash’s house as a happy man whereas Yah finds the shackles that she had once worn before meeting Ton, slipped and locked onto her wrists again. This raises an interesting question as to why Yah would leave Ton to shackle herself again. It was a dream for Yah to be with Ton and she was clearly happy beside him. I feel that Hash’s inability to forget her past leads her to the unfounded fear that Ton would leave her if they were to have an open relationship.
Also, she was concerned that Ton’s reputation as a dedicated doctor would be tarnished if the word got out that he is dating a prostitute. Hash’s shackled by her past identity as a prostitute and she chooses to leave. ! Modernity and tradition is presented as a binary in the novel, it is possible for them to coexist. The Although SE of the Crooking serves as a representation of how both tradition and modernity can harmonies perfectly together. Yah is able to rework foreign language songs to make them sound like indigenous melodies.
She maintains a discreet balance between the lyrics and melody of the song, allowing neither element to overpower the other. Similarly, Tint’s Uncle is able to manipulate Dutch vocabulary such that the words embodied old Javanese thought and emotion. Indonesia is not ready to give up its tradition entirely and thus, the best way for Indonesia to progress is by embracing OTOH tradition and modernity with values from both the East and West allowing neither of them to overpower the other, much like the lyrics and melody of the crooking.
In my short presentation, I have covered the introduction of Shackles as a unique novel in Indonesian literature, the differing attitudes towards marriage and the lack of solidarity amongst women, the fear of being left behind and lastly, on how the characters are shackled by their past. And with that, I have come to the end of my presentation. Thank you for your kind attention.