JOURNAL OF BEIJING UNIVERSITY OF AERONAUTICS AND A ›› 2014, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (3): 104-108.DOI: 10.13766/j.bhsk.1008-2204.2013.0240

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Flowers Growing in the Cement Cleft:A Carnival Reading of Children’s Laughter in Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden

Mai Lisi, Zheng Fei   

  1. School of Foreign Languages, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Beijing 100191, China
  • Received:2013-05-27 Online:2014-05-25 Published:2014-05-28

Abstract: Ian McEwan, the British contemporary author, is known as the "Horrible Ian". Published in 1978, The Cement Garden is a "gothic novel" describing four siblings-growth after their parents-death. Due to a severe lack of social norm and due attention, the four children grow up in a painful, disordered and chaotic way. Reading this novel under the framework of Bahktin's carnivalization theory, this article discovers that laughter serves as a clue symbolizing their ascending from self-debasement into maturity. It can be understood that these children laugh to celebrate power handover, to mock at the parental authority; simultaneously, they laugh to sing a psalm for renewal and to say goodbye to the past. Instead of loitering around on the ethical wasteland, as is misunderstood by most critics, these children strive for the right of freedom in a carnivalized way; they use laughter as a source of nutrition to flowers growing in the cement cleft.

Key words: The Cement Garden, Ian McEwan, carnival theory, laughter, growth

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