Terrorism as a Gendered Familial Psychodrama in John Updike's Terrorist

Alaa Alghamdi


John Updike's Terrorist (2006) tackles the fraught theme of the 'homegrown' Muslim American terrorist. The novel's suspenseful plot, culminating in the young terrorist's capitulation following the intervention of his high school counselor, contains logical inconsistencies that appear to lessen believability or to demand the suspension of disbelief for the sake of a certain air of surreality, which may echo the would-be terrorist's own sense of his environment. This paper explores the idea that logical and thematic inconsistencies in the novel, including deep ambivalence in the depiction of the female characters, are devices deliberately put in place to highlight a gendered psychodrama and construct a strongly patriarchal worldview, both of which offer near-experiential insight into the young terrorist's own perspective.


Terrorism, Updike, ambivalence , psychodrama

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