In Between the Dark and the Light: Autistic Identities in Elizabeth Moon’s The Speed of Dark
This research article is aimed at giving an analysis of autistic identity negotiations in the novel The Speed of Dark (2003) by contemporary American author Elizabeth Moon. On one hand, this novel presents mainstream significations of autism that are influenced by the medical paradigm of disability, which views autism as a disorder that needs to be treated. On the other hand, it offers an alternative way of giving meanings to autism according to the cultural paradigm of disability, which regards autism as a form of cultural identity in a multicultural society. This article presents an analysis of the thoughts of the protagonist Lou Arrendale, a young autistic man, and his interactions with other characters surrounding him, which reveal the processes of negotiating between these two competing lines of signification. This article argues that although the novel shows the influence of the medical paradigm of disability on the protagonist, who decides to undergo treatment to cure himself of autism toward the end of the story, throughout, it emphatically critiques the mainstream concept of the normative self and other medical discourses, which are fraught with biases against autism, and affirms the existence of autism as a cultural identity in a culturally diverse society.
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