The convention of the short story subverts with this style as the text can also be read as a journal or in some contexts even a testimony. I feel that ‘Weekend` has a fairly conventional genre but diverges in some parts to create interest; Berger says ” Thus, most works… fall somewhere between the extremes of convention and invention. ” (2) This is true of Fay Weldon’s short story. Berger also argues that most genre works tend to be in the main conventional otherwise they would not be able to communicate their meaning. He goes on to say that texts communicate with each other this is known as intertextuality.
As I have previously mentioned there are a number of differing genre in ‘Weekend`; one of the most important styles in the story is its use as a feminist text. The issues raised by the story are very important to feminists and whilst they are not entirely new or inventive issues the style in which they are presented is not all conventional. The stream of consciousness that runs through the story keeps the feminist point in mind at all times. We are continually reminded of Martha’s situation and her unhappiness; her husband constantly refers to her paranoia.
The lines ” ‘ Come along, you old banger! Can’t you do better than that? You’re too old, that’s your trouble. Stop complaining. Always complaining, it’s only a hill. You’re too wide about the hips. You’ll never get through there. `” (B. C. 311) 4 evoke strong feelings against Martin but also are again unexpected in the convention of feminist text as they also contain fragmented pieces which do not necessarily makes us feel as if Martin is being totally unreasonable, just maybe his wife is being a little paranoid.
We at first think the same as Martha that he is really aiming his remarks about her car at her also but in fact as we read on in the story it is Martin whom we also start to feel is not in total control of his life. The piece subverts from conventional feminist text by highlighting the male role as provider but not apologizing for that. “Martin standing between her and the hostility of the world- popular, easy, funny Martin, beckoning the rest of the world into earshot”. (B. C. 311) Whilst these lines do not endear us to Martin we do feel that he is a good provider and probably does not realize he is offending and distressing his wife.
Martha however is portrayed at first glance as the long suffering down trodden wife which reinforces the feminist genre style. As we read further on we realize that in fact Martha is gaining all the time in her life she has a job and she runs the home she also is probably achieving more things in her professional life than her husband making her the stronger of the two. She can survive without Martin but the question the text raises for me is, Can he survive without her? If he can not who is in the more powerful position in the relationship?
This is not reinforcing the conventional feminist text but subverts from it in that although we sympathize with Martha because her husband is an arrogant male chauvinist, she does have a choice and she is in the position of being able to escape should she wish to. We are lead in the conventional way to believe that the female character is the one who is suffering in this story; even her name is biblical for the subservient weaker woman who 5 served Jesus. In fact the situation is not all as it seems Martha is the one who likes to be in control she likes to makes sure her brood are all properly fed and educated.
She takes on all these roles willingly because she is a mother not because she has had them forced upon her, as a traditional feminist text would suggest. We have seen that there are a number of different genres within this one short story but the styles are not always as conventional as they first appear. The genre we have discussed reinforce convention but also in some cases subvert. We saw that Berger agreed with the idea that no works contained a completely inventive idea and that most works conformed to a usual standard or they could not be understood.
Fay Weldon has successfully combined these different styles to create a thought provoking and at times quite emotional story.
FOOTNOTES 1. The Penguin Book of Modern British Short Stories edited by Martin Bradbury. Weekend by Fay Weldon Page309. (All subsequent references to the text will appear as B. C. ) 2. Arthur Asa Berger Popular Culture Genres Theories and Texts (Sage) p. 47 BIBLIOGRAPHY Bradbury Martin edited by Modern British Short Stories (Penguin) Berger Arthur Asa Popular Culture Genres Theories and Texts (Sage).