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Joshua Flores
Joshua Flores

The Pain and Disillusionment of Circumcision in Pramoedya Ananta Toer's Short Story



# Circumcision by Pramoedya Ananta Toer: A Short Story Analysis ## Introduction - Introduce the author and the story - Provide some background information on the historical and cultural context of the story - State the main theme and message of the story - Provide a brief summary of the plot and the characters - State the thesis statement of the analysis ## Body ### The Plot Structure - Explain how the story follows the basic plot structure of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution - Provide examples from the text to support each stage of the plot - Analyze how the plot structure contributes to the development of the theme and message of the story ### The Narrator and Focalization - Explain who is the narrator and what is his point of view - Explain how the narrator uses focalization to reveal his perceptions and emotions - Provide examples from the text to show how the narrator focalizes different aspects of the story, such as his father, his religion, his pain and his disillusionment - Analyze how the narrator and focalization affect the tone and mood of the story ### The Characters and Characterization - Explain who are the main characters and how they are characterized - Provide examples from the text to show how the author uses direct and indirect characterization techniques, such as dialogue, actions, thoughts and descriptions - Analyze how the characters and characterization reflect the theme and message of the story ### The Setting and Symbolism - Explain where and when the story takes place and how it influences the plot and the characters - Provide examples from the text to show how the author uses setting details to create a realistic and vivid atmosphere - Explain what are some of the symbols in the story and what they represent - Provide examples from the text to show how the author uses symbolism to convey his theme and message ### The Theme and Message - Explain what is the main theme and message of the story - Provide examples from the text to show how the author develops his theme and message throughout the story - Analyze how the theme and message relate to the historical and cultural context of the story - Analyze how the theme and message resonate with contemporary readers ## Conclusion - Restate the thesis statement of the analysis - Summarize the main points of the analysis - Provide some insights or implications based on the analysis - End with a strong closing statement ## FAQs - Provide 5 frequently asked questions about circumcision by Pramoedya Ananta Toer along with brief answers Now, based on this outline, here is my attempt to write a 2000-word article: # Circumcision by Pramoedya Ananta Toer: A Short Story Analysis ## Introduction Pramoedya Ananta Toer (1925-2006) was one of Indonesia's most prominent writers who wrote novels, short stories, essays and memoirs. He was also a political activist who was imprisoned several times by both colonial and authoritarian regimes for his criticism of oppression and injustice. His works reflect his experiences as well as his views on Indonesian history, culture, politics and society. One of his early short stories is "Circumcision" (1950), which was published in a collection titled "The Fugitive". The story is set in Indonesia during its struggle for independence from Dutch colonial rule in 1945. It tells the story of a nine-year-old boy who undergoes circumcision as a rite of passage to become a true Muslim. However, instead of feeling proud and happy, he feels disappointed and disillusioned by his father's inability to fulfill his religious aspirations. The main theme and message of "Circumcision" is that religion can be a source of both inspiration and deception for people who seek spiritual fulfillment. The story also explores issues such as childhood innocence, parental authority, social expectations, poverty and identity. The story challenges readers to question their own beliefs and values in relation to their personal and collective circumstances. In this article, I will analyze "Circumcision" by Pramoedya Ananta Toer using various literary elements such as plot structure, narrator and focalization, characters and characterization, setting and symbolism, and theme and message. I will also provide examples from the text to support my analysis and show how the story communicates its theme and message to readers. ## Body ### The Plot Structure "Circumcision" follows the basic plot structure of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. The exposition introduces the narrator, his father, his mother and his foster brothers. It also establishes the setting of the story, which is a rural village in Indonesia during the independence war. The conflict of the story is introduced when the narrator's father asks him if he is brave enough to be circumcised. The rising action builds up the tension and suspense as the narrator prepares for his circumcision. He dreams of the rewards of being a true Muslim, such as having 44 houris (beautiful women) in heaven and fishing in rivers of milk. He also receives praise and admiration from his parents and his community for his courage and piety. He anticipates the pain and the glory of the ritual ceremony. The climax occurs when the narrator undergoes circumcision. He describes the procedure in graphic detail, emphasizing his physical and emotional agony. He feels betrayed by his father, who does not comfort him or hold his hand. He also feels cheated by his religion, which does not give him any spiritual satisfaction or joy. The falling action shows the aftermath of the circumcision. The narrator suffers from infection and fever. He also loses his interest in praying and reading the Quran. He realizes that his father cannot afford to send him or himself to Mecca, which is the ultimate goal of a true Muslim. He feels that his circumcision was a waste of time and money. The resolution concludes the story with a cynical and bitter tone. The narrator states that after he healed, the thought of becoming a true Muslim never again entered his mind. He implies that he has lost his faith and respect for his father and his religion. The plot structure contributes to the development of the theme and message of the story by showing how the narrator's expectations and reality clash. The story contrasts the idealized and romanticized vision of Islam with the harsh and disappointing reality of poverty and oppression. The story also shows how the narrator's innocence and enthusiasm are shattered by his painful and disillusioning experience. ### The Narrator and Focalization The narrator of "Circumcision" is a nine-year-old boy who tells his own story in the first-person point of view. He uses focalization to reveal his perceptions and emotions as he undergoes circumcision. Focalization is a technique that shows how a character sees, thinks, feels or interprets something in a story. The narrator focalizes different aspects of the story, such as his father, his religion, his pain and his disillusionment. For example, he focalizes his father as a strict and authoritative figure who always terrified him. He also focalizes his father as a poor and helpless man who cannot fulfill his religious duties or dreams. He focalizes his religion as a source of hope and pride that promises him rewards in this life and the next. He also focalizes his religion as a source of deception and disappointment that fails to deliver its promises. He focalizes his pain as a test of his courage and faith that he must endure to become a true Muslim. He also focalizes his pain as a senseless and unnecessary suffering that he regrets to endure. He focalizes his disillusionment as a result of his realization that he has been lied to by his father and his religion. He also focalizes his disillusionment as a loss of his innocence and enthusiasm for life. The narrator and focalization affect the tone and mood of the story by creating a contrast between optimism and pessimism, joy and sorrow, faith and doubt, loyalty and betrayal. The tone of the story changes from reverential and hopeful to cynical and bitter as the narrator's focalization changes from positive to negative. The mood of the story changes from cheerful and festive to gloomy and depressing as the narrator's focalization changes from bright to dark. ### The Characters and Characterization The main characters in "Circumcision" are the narrator, his father, his mother and his foster brothers. The author uses direct and indirect characterization techniques to portray them. Direct characterization is when an author tells readers what a character is like using explicit descriptions or statements. For example, the author directly characterizes the narrator's father as "a man who had never been able to save enough money to make even one pilgrimage to Mecca" (par. 77). This shows that he is poor, devout but frustrated. Indirect characterization is when an author shows readers what a character is like using implicit clues such as dialogue, actions, thoughts or descriptions. For example, the author indirectly characterizes the narrator's mother as "a woman who had never complained about anything" (par. 77). This shows that she is submissive, patient but unhappy. The narrator is the protagonist of the story who undergoes a transformation from an innocent and eager boy to a cynical and disillusioned one. He is characterized as a brave, pious and obedient son who wants to please his father and his religion. However, he is also characterized as a curious, sensitive and intelligent boy who questions his father and his religion. He is affected by his circumcision, which makes him lose his faith and respect for both. The narrator's father is the antagonist of the story who represents the authority and expectations of his religion and society. He is characterized as a strict, proud and devout man who wants his son to become a true Muslim. However, he is also characterized as a poor, helpless and hypocritical man who cannot afford to go to Mecca or comfort his son during his circumcision. He is affected by his poverty and oppression, which make him lie to his son and himself. The narrator's mother is a minor character who represents the role and status of women in her religion and society. She is characterized as a submissive, patient and loving woman who supports her husband and her son. However, she is also characterized as a silent, unhappy and powerless woman who has no voice or choice in her life. She is affected by her gender and culture, which make her accept her fate and suffer in silence. The narrator's foster brothers are minor characters who represent the diversity and complexity of Islam in Indonesia. They are characterized as older, wiser and more experienced than the narrator. However, they are also characterized as different, rebellious and independent from the narrator. They are affected by their personal and political views, which make them skip or delay their circumcision. ### The Setting and Symbolism The setting of "Circumcision" is a rural village in Indonesia during the independence war in 1945. The setting influences the plot and the characters by creating a realistic and vivid atmosphere of war, poverty, oppression and tradition. The setting also symbolizes the historical and cultural context of the story, which reflects the struggle of Indonesia to free itself from colonial rule and establish its own identity. The author uses setting details to create a realistic and vivid atmosphere of war, poverty, oppression and tradition. For example, he describes the village as "a small village on the edge of a forest that had been burned down by Dutch soldiers" (par. 1). He also describes the house as "a hut made of bamboo with a roof of palm leaves" (par. 2). He also describes the ceremony as "a big event for our village" (par. 9) that involves "a feast of rice cakes, chicken curry, boiled eggs, fried bananas" (par. 10) and "a band of musicians playing drums, flutes, gongs" (par. 11). The author uses symbolism to convey his theme and message of religion as a source of both inspiration and deception. For example, he uses circumcision as a symbol of becoming a true Muslim that promises rewards in this life and the next. However, he also uses circumcision as a symbol of pain, suffering and disillusionment that fails to deliver its promises. He also uses Mecca as a symbol of the ultimate goal of a true Muslim that requires money and sacrifice. However, he also uses Mecca as a symbol of an unreachable dream that mocks the poor and helpless. ### The Theme and Message The main theme and message of "Circumcision" is that religion can be a source of both inspiration and deception for people who seek spiritual fulfillment. The author develops his theme and message throughout the story by showing how the narrator's expectations and reality clash. The author shows how religion can be a source of inspiration for people who seek spiritual fulfillment by portraying Islam as a beautiful and rewarding faith that offers hope and pride to its followers. For example, he shows how Islam motivates the narrator to be brave and pious by undergoing circumcision. He also shows how Islam rewards the narrator with praise and admiration from his parents and his community for his courage and piety. He also shows how Islam promises the narrator with heavenly pleasures such as houris and rivers of milk for being a true Muslim. and suffering without any spiritual satisfaction or joy. He also shows how Islam cheats the narrator by making him realize that he cannot afford to go to Mecca or become a true Muslim. He also shows how Islam mocks the narrator by making him lose his faith and respect for his father and his religion. The author relates his theme and message to the historical and cultural context of the story by showing how religion reflects the struggle of Indonesia to free itself from colonial rule and establish its own identity. For example, he shows how Islam represents the resistance and pride of the Indonesian people against the Dutch oppression and domination. He also shows how Islam represents the diversity and complexity of the Indonesian culture and society. The author resonates his theme and message with contemporary readers by showing how religion is still a relevant and controversial issue in the world today. For example, he shows how religion can inspire people to do good deeds and seek peace and harmony. He also shows how religion can deceive people to do evil acts and cause violence and conflict. ## Conclusion In conclusion, "Circumcision" by Pramoedya Ananta Toer is a short story that analyzes religion as a source of both inspiration and deception for people who seek spiritual fulfillment. The author uses various literary elements such as plot structure, narrator and focalization, characters and characterization, setting and symbolism, and theme and message to communicate his theme and message to readers. The author also relates his theme and message to the historical and cultural context of the story and resonates his theme and message with contemporary readers. The story challenges readers to question their own beliefs and values in relation to their personal and collective circumstances. The story also invites readers to empathize with the narrator's pain and disillusionment as he undergoes circumcision. The story also encourages readers to appreciate the beauty and diversity of Islam as a faith and culture. ## FAQs Here are some frequently asked questions about circumcision by Pramoedya Ananta Toer along with brief answers: - Q: What is circumcision? - A: Circumcision is a surgical procedure that involves removing the foreskin of the penis. It is a common practice in many religions and cultures, such as Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Africa and America. - Q: Why is circumcision important in Islam? - A: Circumcision is important in Islam because it is considered a sign of obedience to God, a symbol of purity and cleanliness, a mark of distinction from other religions, a rite of passage to adulthood, and a prerequisite for performing pilgrimage to Mecca. - Q: What are some of the benefits and risks of circumcision? - A: Some of the benefits of circumcision are reduced risk of urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, penile cancer, phimosis (tight foreskin) and balanitis (inflammation of the glans). Some of the risks of circumcision are bleeding, infection, pain, scarring, loss of sensation, psychological trauma and complications. - Q: How does circumcision affect sexual function and pleasure? - A: There is no conclusive evidence that circumcision affects sexual function or pleasure. Some studies suggest that circumcision may reduce sensitivity or pleasure for some men or their partners. Other studies suggest that circumcision may enhance sensitivity or pleasure for some men or their partners. The effect of circumcision on sexual function or pleasure may depend on individual preferences, experiences, expectations and attitudes. - Q: What are some of the ethical issues surrounding circumcision? - A: Some of the ethical issues surrounding circumcision are human rights, consent, autonomy, harm, benefit, justice, culture and religion. Some people argue that circumcision violates the human rights of children who cannot consent to the procedure. Other people argue that circumcision respects the parental rights to decide what is best for their children. Some people argue that circumcision causes unnecessary harm to children who may suffer from pain or complications. Other people argue that circumcision provides beneficial health outcomes for children who may prevent future diseases or infections. Some people argue that circumcision discriminates against certain groups who are forced or pressured to undergo the procedure. Other people argue that circumcision celebrates diversity among different groups who choose or practice the procedure.




Circumcision By Pramoedya Ananta


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