Crisis of Identity and Mimicry in Orwell’s Burmese Days Seen through a Local Native Character U Po Kyin: A Postcolonial Readin

B. Endo Gauh Perdana, Elisa Dwi Wardani


This study analyzes how crisis of identity and mimicry occurs in the postcolonial discourse. A local native character whose name is U Po Kyin is the focus of the study. As a native character, he holds a high ranking position for local in the British Raj in Burma. However, he is portrayed as a corrupt official as he accepts bribes and denounces his rival. His ambition to get the membership, an elite European Club, drives him infuriated to destroy his rival’s reputation because naturally it is him who would be elected as the first local member of the Club. At the end of the novel, Kyin finally secures his membership but he fails to atone his evil-doings by building pagodas as a Buddhist. Kyin’s attitude is seen as how he manages to deal with his inferiority towards the British. He is also observed to mimic the British as his strategy to erase the idea of being colonized.

There are two problem formulations in this study. The first is to find out how U Po Kyin suffers from crisis of identity through his characterization in the novel. Then, the second objective is to understand how his crisis of identity leads him to mimic the British.

This study condludes that U Po Kyin suffers from crisis of identity. He is oppressed conscious and unconsciously by the British. This causes his self-image to be eroded. Even though he is relatively wealthier than his fellow natives, he still craves for more as he realizes that there is something more than money. He wants to be detached from his inferiority. The elite European Club represents his ambition because it offers him status to be like the British. That is why he schemes to crush his rival. In his schemes, denigrating his rival means to mimic the British because he needs to differ himself from the natives. However, he is still powerless because the British still consider him as the subject of colonialization.

Keywords: crisis of identity, mimicry, postcolonial reading

Full Text:



Abrams, M.H. and Geoffrey G. Harpham. Glossary of Literary Terms, 9th Edition. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009.

Aschroft, Bill and Gareth Griffiths and Hellen Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory, 3rd Edition. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2009.

Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. Classics ed. London: Routledge, 2004.

Gopinath, Praseeda. “An Orphaned Manliness: the Pukka Sahib and the End of Empire in Passage to India and Nurmese Days”. Studies in the Novel, Vol. 41, No. 2 (summer 2009), pp. 201-223. The Johns Hopkins University Press. ( 8). August 5, 2016.

Holman, C Hugh and William Harmon. A Handbook to Literature, 5th Edition. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1986

Guerin, Wilfred L. Earle Labor, Lee Morgan, and John R. Willingham. A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature, 6th Edition. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Larkin, Emma. Finding Orwell in Burma. London and New York: Penguin Books, 2006.

Lee, Robert A. “Symbol and Structure in Burmese Days : A Revaluation”. Texas Studies in Literature and Language, Vol. 11, No. 1 (Spring 1969), pp. 819-835 University of Texas Press. (www.jstor. org/stable/40754032). August 5, 2016.

Loomba, Ania. Colonialism/Postcolonialism. London and New York: Routledge, 2005.

Orwell, George. Burmese Days. New York: Harcourt, 1934. Orwell, George. Collected Essay. London: Mercury Books, 1961.

Phyo Tha, Kyaw. Orwell’s ‘Burmese Days’ Wins Govt Literary Award. The Irrawaddy. November 19, 2013. ( wells-burmese-days-wins-govt-literaryaward.html). August 5, 2016.

Poznar, Walter. “Orwell and Little Brother”. College Literature, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Fall, 1985), pp. 258-265. The Johns Hopkins University Press. ( stable/25111672). August 3, 2016.

Rai, Alok. “Colonial Fictions: Orwell's 'Burmese Days'”. Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 18, No. 5 (Jan. 29, 1983), pp. PE47-PE52. Economic and Political Weekly. August 5, 2016.

Roberts, Edgar V. and Henry E. Jacobs. Fiction: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1987.

Rutherford, Jonathan. Identity: Community, Culture, Difference. London: Lawrence & Wishart Limited, 1990.

“Why I write”. George Orwell. 1946 ( 08/readings-4.pdf). June 3, 2015.

Wiharyanto, Kardiyat A. Asia Tenggara Zaman Pranasionalisme. Yogyakarta: Universitas Sanata Dharma, 2005.


  • There are currently no refbacks.



Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Journal of Language and Literature - Department of English Letters, Universitas Sanata Dharma, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Flag Counter