AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 2012... 2012 “Angry Because She Stutters” : Stuttering, Violence, and the Politics of Voice in American Pastoral and Sorry
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'In Philip Roth’s American Pastoral (1997) and Gail Jones’s Sorry (2007), the portrayals of stuttering in the female characters Merry Levov and Perdita Keene share a common conception of the stutterer as prone to violent, destructive behavior. Although the manifestations of their stutters are reversed—Merry develops hers gradually whereas Perdita’s stutter is triggered by the trauma of her father’s murder—both narratives share this same tendency to link blocked speech to sudden outbursts of violence. In this article, I show how the link in both novels between violence and stuttering is further tied to a discussion of political agency (understood in terms of voice). In Merry’s case, this comes with her stuttering protests against the Vietnam War, and in Perdita’s case, with her inability to testify on behalf of the Aboriginal people. Thus, I argue that Roth and Jones deploy the stutter not only in gendered terms, as a symbol for the suppression of the female voice, but also as a broader symbol for the struggle to achieve political voice in the face of injustice.' (Publication abstract)


  • Epigraph: “Feminas verba balba decent.” – Horace

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Philip Roth Studies vol. 8 no. 1 Spring 2012 7944581 2012 periodical issue 2012 pg. 17-30
Last amended 8 Feb 2019 14:37:49
17-30 “Angry Because She Stutters” : Stuttering, Violence, and the Politics of Voice in American Pastoral and Sorrysmall AustLit logo Philip Roth Studies