Breaking the Binary: A Queer Reading of The Pregnant King


  • Sreelekshmi J Research Scholar, Department of English Chikkaih Naicker College Erode, Tamil Nadu, India


The proposed research paper entitled Breaking the Binary: A Queer Reading ofThe Pregnant King  is an attempt to analyse how, the much discussed and controversial concepts of transgender and queer relationships of today, have been dealt and looked upon with a more tolerant attitude in DevduttPattanaik’s novel The Pregnant King. Pattnaik’s work renders a retelling of the blurring of lines between parental duties and the malleability of dharma to fit a given situation. Exploring upon the theme of transgender, the author hopes to make us realize that in the rush to deem situations black or white, the vast expanse of grey needs to be acknowledged and dealt with as well. The paper further incorporates the American philosopher Judith Butler’s concept of the ‘performativity of gender’ into the novel. According to her gender is ‘cultural’ rather than ‘natural’. Butler redefines ‘gender’ as an action, humans are compelled to ‘perform’ by society rather than a state of ‘being’ or a bodily condition. She adds that gender can be imitated because it is always and already a ‘performance’.

. Pattnaik’s novel describes a number of such characters including Shikhandi, Stunakarna, Somvat, and Arjuna, thus explicitly pointing out the traces of transgender in the epic, The Mahabharatha. Yuvanashwa, the protagonist is lost between the obscure line that separates a ‘man’ from a ‘woman’ and a ‘father’ from a ‘mother’, trying to make sense of the transgender identity.Hence his psyche is torn apart by the rational paternal role that society demands from him and the emotional maternal feelings with which his heart pulsates, finally leading to his renunciation of life itself. Hence reading the work through Butler’s lenses makes it clear how obviously and dexterously have the author knitted up Butler’s theories of the ‘performativity of gender’ along the pages of his influencial novel.


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How to Cite

J, S. (2019). Breaking the Binary: A Queer Reading of The Pregnant King. SMART MOVES JOURNAL IJELLH, 7(10), 12. Retrieved from