Publication Date

2009

Journal

Journal of American Folklore

Volume

122

Issue

485

First Page

267

Last Page

296

Abstract

What can we learn about the way that folk storytelling operates for tellers and audience members by examining the telling of stories by characters within such narratives? I examine Maithil women’s folktales in which stories of women’s suffering at the hands of other women are first suppressed and later overheard by men who have the power to alleviate such suffering. Maithil women are pitted against one another in their pursuit of security and resources in the context of patrilineal formations. The solidarities such women nonetheless form—in part through sharing stories and keeping each other’s secrets—serve to mitigate their suffering and maintain a counter-system of ideational patterns and practices.

Publisher Statement

  • Published as "Talking Tools, Suffering Servants, and Defecating Men: The Power of Storytelling in Maithil Women’s Tales." Journal of American Folklore 122(485):267–296 (2009) by the American Folklore Society"