“การถอดรหัสโครงสร้างในนวนิยายไทย พ.ศ. 2475-2500” (“Decoding The Structure of Thai Novels between 1932 and 1957”)
Keywords:Thai novels, Claude Lévi-Strauss, structuralism
Previously, the studies of Thai novels written between 1932 and 1957 mostly focused on sociological contexts presented in the story to analyze the relationship between Thai novels and the society after the country’s political reform. Most of the studies on the topic adopted literature for life approach to explain significant ideas and messages embedded in each novel. However, seeking to understand the implicit messages hidden behind the novels, this present study adopted structuralism theories on folklore studies proposed by Claude Lévi-Strauss to analyze Thai novels to investigate in-depth conflicts and to decode hidden messages via the idea of binary opposition. In this regard, the adoption of structuralism theories on folklore studies to analyze novels can be considered a cross-discipline study. The adaption is considered acceptable on the basis that folklores and novels are both narrative stories.
According to the study, the novels demonstrated the conflicting characterization of two groups of people—lower-class people and high-class people, intellectuals and/or capitalists—about social inequality. The data also showed the binary idea of the conflict between laypeople and authorities resulting from the political reform which greatly affected the way of living of Thai people. The old conservative society became a combination of conservation and modernity. The novels implied that while the rich, capitalists, intellectuals and high-class people usually survive changes happened in the society, the conservatives, old-fashioned, agricultural dependents, and lower-classes people did not. Additionally, it is also noticeable in the novels that people who could not live happily regardless of the characteristics of the society were agricultural dependents and poor people. Finally, the study implies an interesting notion about Thai society that repeatedly appeared in the novels; that is the adherence to traditions and customs which is one of the unique characteristics of Thai society.