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Tracing The Concept Of Female Body in Sara Kane’s "Blasted"

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Textual Analysis; Female Body in Blasted

According to Kuryluk femininity is respected by societies, but the world can never solve the problem of the imprisonment within the female body (Kuryluk, 20). In the second half of the play, Cate is seen as a possible mother which can be considered as the most respectable role for the female body. She returns from the outside world destroyed by war with a baby left alone by its mother. The following part highlights the role of Cate and the importance of her femininity and Ian’s effort for forcing Cate back to his world.

It should be noted that as Kuryluk believes the female body which is constructed by power relations tries to oppose the outside forces (Kuryluk, 31). Cate’s body is an obedient or a damaged body which can be considered as a confessing body to picture the cruelty and difficulties of Cate. Her bodily and psychic honesty is ruined and Ian uses her bodily expression against her stating: “Ian Thought you liked that. Cate. No. Ian Made enough noise” (B, 31). The physical violence does not only affect Cate’s mental status but also controls her body directly. She is not able to perform the natural physical needs without being hurt. Cate also talks about the direct consequences Ian’s rape had on her body: “Cate I can’t piss. It’s just blood. Ian Drink lots of water. Cate Or shit. It hurts” (B,34).

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In this play, Kane concentrates on the female body and the way sexual assault and male power define the way the body is seen not only by society but also by women themselves. Similarly to Kuryluk’s theory the female body is presented as a social structure which is continuously discussed by society and individual. It seems that the female character tries to break the roles and the power relations forced on her but she doesn’t seem to be able to break out their prearranged roles.

As it was mentioned in the previous chapter, Kuryluk states that because of the nature of human anatomy, even the most sublimed fantasies of love are exposed to the presence of ridicules (Kuryluk, 21). In this case, Cate laughs at Ian and alters the power toward her. When Ian undresses himself, she tells him that she doesn’t like his clothes either and starts laughing, by this reaction she makes him weak and insecure. Roughly speaking, his body is judged only by Cate’s reaction. Shivering and bursting into frantic laughing puts Cate in the position of the weak participant again but even in this situation Ian can’t control her body.

In Blasted, Kane introduces a new element to the issue of gender through the brightly represented physical rape of the feminized male body, puzzled the status of rape as the female victim-only space. Although Sara kane’s play Blasted is about many things, such as war, gender issues, and shortcomings of society, what really attracts the audience’s attention is in particular the playwright’s insistence on the clear demonstration of rape scenes.

In should be noted that as Kuryluk mentions, the structure of the female body has an essential role in a way that they are continuously surrounding their bodies against the male dominated environment. By losing control over their bodies, they actually blame themselves instead of the violating part. In Blasted Cate is attacked by Ian for not looking sexy enough for him but he attempts to get her to do oral sex.

The author mixes up the subjects and objects of rape and differs the modes she uses to represent the four different acts of rape portrayed in the play. The story expanded so that the ugliest rape in the play occurs to Ian, the male character. The reader may conclude that lastly the silence of the rape history was heard and the male was punished as a form of justice but the play instead presents rape as a practice of gender difference, dissimilarity and otherness. In Blasted, Kane’s illustration of Cate’s rape could be placed in the larger context of rape in our society where women were often seen as belongings of men. Consequently, rape is considered as an insult against male properties.

As it was mentioned earlier, throughout the play Kane repeatedly portrays Cate as a non-sexual. Cate pauses when Ian accuses her and her brother of being hindered but immediately answers to Ian’s “I love you” with a “big smile, friendly and non-sexual” (B, 5). On the other hand, later in the play Cate tries to seduce Ian by biting him in his penis so she actually repeals the roles of attacker and victim at that moment. She discards the aggressive acts Ian has forced her to. Kane writes: “Cate begins to cough and retch. She puts her fingers down her throat and produces a hair. She holds it up and looks at Ian in disgust. She spits”(B,33).

Blasted inserts radical tones to the traditional image of rape which let the characters push the boundaries of a male on male rape. Sara kane in Blasted tries to portray the characters by rejecting the traditional heroes and characters. Her characters can be read as a post human. The characters that are out casted from the society use humor to punctuate the wounding of their bodies. As a normal character, Cate gets raped many times throughout the play.

Accurately, she is raped twice: in the beginning of the play and later outside of the hotel. Symbolically, she is also raped via language by Ian’s verbal abuse. Whether she stays in a hotel or makes it to the outside world, what expects her is nothing but rape as if it is a common condition for a contemporary woman. When the Soldier understands that Cate has escaped the Leeds hotel through the bathroom window, he expects that she will be raped out. She belongs to the class of women and stays within the category of traditional social and sexual relations but the carnivalized Cate tries to free herself from these boundaries.

Cate comes back to the hotel room carrying a crying baby. Ian begs Cate to carry the soldier’s gun and finish the job that the soldier started. When Cate tells Ian that God would not like killing yourself, he replies:” No God, no Father Charismas, no fairies, no Narnia, no fucking nothing”(B, 55). The comedy starts at the debate’s conclusion. Ian puts the gun in his mouth but surprisingly wants Cate not to “stand behind me” (B, 56 ). Then laughter, Ian pulls the trigger but it is empty of bullets. Cate tells Ian” Fate, see. You are not meant to do it. God-“(B, 57). The audience is in on a joke that Ian can’t see. Cate herself took the bullets out of gun; her fate on God’s plan is not so firm. Again laugh but as soon as the empty gun hits the floor, Cate realizes that the baby in her hand died. From here laughter will be stopped and the carnivalised characters enter into tragedy.

The play still have one final joke, Cate buries the child and leaves Ian. He is hungry so he finds a final solution to his pain. He eats greedily the baby’s corps and then climbs into the grave. Ian’s suffering is not yet complete: “He dies with relief; it starts to rain on him, coming from the roof. Eventually. Ian: Shit” (B, 60). Up to the bomb explosion, the play is an examination of a diseased male identity. Here masculinity is symbolized in the injured form of Ian, “anatomized, even celebrated before being brutally punished”(Waters,381). Nevertheless, Like Cate’s, Ian, too, experiences an alteration by the end of the play, turning from a violent “homophobic and xenophobic alpha-male”(Saal, 6) in the beginning into an injured and needy man.

In another scene, the male protagonist Ian is dishonored only because he finds himself in the position of the symbolic female. It reveals the absoluteness of the object of rape as feminine. Through the frequent references to a symbolic female object, the Soldier feminizes Ian, forcing him into a passive role. The Soldier does not get distressed for not being able to carry an act of revenge toward Ian as an enemy male through raping his woman. He expects Cate to be raped anyway: “Gone. Taking a risk. Lot of bastard soldiers out there” (B,38). He knows that she cannot escape from the boundaries of society. At the end of Blasted, Cate returns to Ian who is now blind and totally dependent on her. Although she is the “stronger” one in their relationship, she is still not able to break out their unhealthy and repressing connection.

The status of the characters remains vague. If Cate as claims, there will be afterlife, then Ian’s discovery is that it is no better than this world. In that world, people will be hungry and get wet. If he is still alive, his chance of dying “with relief “has been let down by nature. By portraying female character throughout the play, it is hard to make a clear distinction between victims and perpetrators. The playwright generates characters that in spite of showing the ability to impose mental and physical torture on other people have an “underlying fragility, a desire to be loved and an almost pathetic tenderness that often lurks beneath their cruelty”(Saunders, 32).


The female body is isolated from common life and is constrained within its own damaged, anxious or ugly and deformed imprisonment of the flesh. The main characters of the selected plays are all modern men; unusual and destructive, but separated and degraded as well. They are all intertwined with emotional and sensual or physical difficulties in their lives; they are disregarded, betrayed and tormented through their bodies and physical life.


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