"In the end its all nice" : Sara's addiction, television, and self-mediation in Hubert Selby Jr.'s Requiem for a dream"

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
James Derek Payseur (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site: http://library.uncw.edu/
Advisor
Nicholas Laudadio

Abstract: In an effort to expand the small amount of criticism devoted to Hubert Selby Jr.’s work, this paper examines the character, Sara Goldfarb, in the novel, Requiem for a Dream. By focusing on the construction and destruction of Sara’s identity, as well as her physical body, I primarily will look at how Selby’s novel comments on culture as a “self” mediator, especially when acquired through the medium of television. I open with a brief discussion of Selby’s life, particularly his relationship with the illness that made up a major part of it, and then turn to Selby’s experimental style in an effort to understand how his mixing of first and third-person narrative perspectives helps the reader to see that Sara’s interiority is comprised of the ideologies communicated to her through the cultural medium of television. Drawing from Ulric Neisser’s “Five Kinds of Self-Knowledge,” the second part of this paper examines the five selves (ecological, interpersonal, extended, private, and conceptual) that comprise Sara’s subjectivity, while primarily focusing on her conceptual self and her inability to accept her current roles as a widow and “sonless” mother. In addition, I also will concentrate on television’s role as a cultural mediator for Sara’s identity, including discussions about the televisual utopia of entertainment and the three-orders of signification as expounded upon by John Fiske and John Hartley. After examining the construction of Sara’s character, this paper will conclude with a discussion of how the same cultural factors, as well as her sense of agency, both play role in the destruction of Sara’s interior and exterior selves. Thus, the primary goal of this project is to provide further insight into Requiem for a Dream, since little has been written on it, and to understand how Selby’s novel comments on culture’s role in the formation of an individual’s “self,” while simultaneously destroying it.

Additional Information

Publication
Thesis
A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of Masters of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Keywords
Selby Hubert Requiem for a dream--Criticism and interpretation
Subjects
Selby, Hubert. Requiem for a dream -- Criticism and interpretation