When the creature learns about the various cultures of the world by eavesdropping on the De Lacey family, the lessons that he learns and the reaction that he had to the Native American’s downfall imply that the creature and Safi are both represented of the foreign, colonized subaltern.

The subaltern is, in Spivak’s terms, the lowest of the low in a society; much of the time the subaltern takes the form of women, or the colonized. In the episode of the De Lacey family, there are two foreign subalterns that are “fed” the ideals and beliefs of the European culture: Safi, the Turkish Christian woman, and the monster. It is important to note that neither one of the two learns the lessons of Volney’s “Ruin of Empires” directly; they are narrated to them by Felix, a male member of the colonizing society. The monster’s understanding – and Safi’s as well – is entirely based off of secondhand and potentially filtered lessons, “I should not have understood the purport of this book, had not Felix, in reading it, given very minute explanations.” Without reading the book for themselves, Safi and the creature cannot form their own opinions on the subject and are therefore enslaved to the phallocentric discourse that the book and Felix are employing.

When the book comes to the tale of the Native Americans, Safi and the creature weep, “over the hapless fate of the original inhabitants” at the hands of the colonizers. Both subalterns were raised outside of the European colonizing culture of the time; Safi in Turkey, and the creature outside of any society at all. In hearing about the destruction of another culture due to the culture that the monster and Safi are currently in, they may have recognized that the Native Americans are much like themselves, subalterns to the European way. Despite his kinship to the Native Americans, the bias of Felix’s lessons do sink into the monster’s thought; he describes that the Asiatics are “slothful”, that the Greeks had “stupendous genius and mental activity” and the Romans possessed “wonderful virtue.” This acceptance of phallocentric thought ties into Spivak’s discussion of whether or not the subaltern can speak for themselves. Is the creature truly empathizing with the European notion of the Orient, or does it see the horror of colonialism reflected in the Native Americans? Both sides are reflected in the monster, and much like Spivak’s question, the answer is ambiguous. Safi and the monster are both reflective of the colonized subaltern because of the way they are taught about society, and the people that they empathized with.

Advertisements