Language in motion in Marilynne Robinson’s "Housekeeping" and the Book of "Ruth"

James Krasner

Abstract


The terminology used to describe people living in socially or legally ambiguous housing conditions is contradictory and contested in often unpredictable ways. Homeless people, as well as the laws and government discourses designed to limit their behavior, frequently choose language that is at odds with what their bodies are actually doing in the spaces they occupy. In this essay I will discuss the oxymoronic verbal formulations for how transients, especially transient women, move through and live in social space by looking at two texts that focus on homeless women and their social power, Marilynne Robinson’s novel Housekeeping, and the biblical Book of Ruth (on which it is partially based). By placing these works in the context of the legal discourses of homelessness and squatting, and gender analyses of mobility, I hope to identify a mode of gendered embodiment based in the language of motion.


Keywords


Marilynne Robinson; Ruth; homelessness; Bible; mobility; squatter’s rights; gender

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18172/jes.3647

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© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

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