Contesting gender in The Wasp Factory (1984), Whit (1995) and The Business (1999)

Sarah Falcus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


These three novels place women at the centre of their narratives, as narrators of their own stories. This assertion of narrative control is echoed in the texts in the positions of power held and protected by the women: Kate as a high flyer in The Business, Isis as future leader of the Luskentyrians, Frank/Francis as the lord of his island. In this sense, Banks insists upon a position of gender equality, with women as aggressive, as clever and as resourceful as men. This is, of course, particularly the case with Frank in The Wasp Factory, where the insistence upon a violent and misogynistic code is finally turned on its head with the revelation that Frank is, in fact, Francis. Gender is therefore constructed and not innate, as it is, too, for Kate and Isis, products of adoptive or extended families. However, just as Frank must accommodate a new version of self and gender at the end of The Wasp Factory, so do Kate and, to an extent, Isis look towards the possibility of other options at the end of the texts, options which include the specifically female roles of mother and wife. Holding positions of control and authority seems to preclude the possibility of exploration of other areas of female experience in these texts, with the possibility of other roles only offered at the end of the novels.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Transgressive Iain Banks
Subtitle of host publicationEssays on a Writer Beyond Borders
EditorsMartyn Colebrook, Katharine Cox
PublisherMcFarland and Company, Inc
ISBN (Electronic)9781476602929
ISBN (Print)9780786442256
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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