Zeitschrift für die Welt der Türken / Journal of World of Turks, Vol 8, No 2 (2016)

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Western Self Images in Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile: A Postcolonial Reading

Mevlüde ZENGİN


This study is an extension of another study of mine analyzing the delineation of the Orient and oriental in Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile from the vantage point of Edward W. Said's critique of Orientalism. The mentioned study concerning the western images of the Orient and oriental in Death on the Nile concludes with the ideas that Christie, in the portrayal of the Orient and oriental in her novel, relied on the stereotypical deep-seated prejudices about the Orient and oriental, and that as Christie reflected them via her own cultural bias and her western perspective, and as she took into account western norms in the identification of the oriental, her novel is an orientalist discourse reinforcing the negative and false image of the Orient. The central aim of the present paper is to study the reflection of the European characters in the novel in order to provide a contrastive analysis of Christie's depiction of both eastern and western characters and thus to argue that whereas Christie is concerned to bring to the fore the negative qualities of eastern people rather than the positive ones, the other way round is true in the depiction of western characters. The main action in Death on the Nile rests on the relationships, greediness, efforts to acquire money and gains, hatred, jealousies, vices and murders of the western characters; however, as this study highlights, Christie does not reflect them in such a negative way that she adopted in the projection of eastern characters, all of whom she employed as background characters. The paper also indicates that the construction of the western self images in Death on the Nile has been achieved by means of a detour through the 'Other', i.e. easterners in the novel has a significant role in the westerner's self-defining since they are always categorized as the 'Other' of the westerner. Christie drew her western characters with the positive qualities opposed to the negative ones attached to her eastern characters. The study concludes that in Christie's portrayal of western characters, her tolerance toward them in spite of their having the worst kinds of frauds and her construction of western self-images by detouring the 'Other' are the indications of her orientalism other than but also supportive of those presented in my study aforementioned and dealing with western image of the Orient and oriental in Death on the Nile.

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