In Nora Okja Keller's Comfort Woman (1997), the Korean American protagonist reconciles with her Korean heritage through the act of spreading her mother's ashes. This essay looks at Keller's use of a “language of the body” that protests against rape and other forms of oppression of the female body. This language of the body does not rely on essentialist parameters of “race” or of women's “nature.” On the contrary, by depicting rape as universal, non-culture–specific issue, Keller's novel sketches a mother–daughter relationship where the daughter finds a way to identify with the mother despite the fact that the mother remains, at times, the cultural “Other.” It is a shared experience of rape and trauma that facilitates a means of understanding between mother and daughter and serves as a point of contact for the building of transnational feminist solidarity between women of different cultures.

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