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Qanitah Masykuroh
Siti Fatimah


Indonesian folktales, girlhood, femininity, lexical representation, linguistic construction


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the linguistic construction of the femininity for girl characters in Indonesian folktales retold in children’s books. During the phase of their lives as girls, female characters in Indonesia folktales are narratively bound up in attempts to confront, fulfill, and sometimes defy, social prescribed feminine roles.

Methodology: The data are twenty Indonesian folktales depicting girls as the main characters. The lexical, as well as clausal constructions in the stories in relation to girls are analyzed using content analysis and Halliday’s transitivity within the framework of Systemic Functional Linguistics.

Results: The results show that ideal femininity attributed to girls in Indonesian folktales are mainly of three dimensions

i.e. beauty, virtue, and passivity. The lexical representation of girl femininity reveals that girls in Indonesian folktales are typically stereotyped with either traditional femininity or non-conforming femininity.

Implications: The clausal analysis shows how the stories present the attempt of the girls to fulfill the ideal feminine roles. There seems to be a reward for girls who fulfill ‘proper’ feminine qualities and punishment for girls who defy the ideal femininity. However, there are girls who seem to be non-conforming to the ideals of traditional femininity but rewarded as well as girls who fail at feminine roles but not punished with the provision of forgiveness. Thus, this paper contributes to the discussion on the girlhood femininity in contemporary children’s books.


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