The Symbolic Order in Steve Toltz's A Fraction of the Whole: A Lacanian Treatment

Document Type: Original Article


1 PhD Candidate of English Language and Literature, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran

2 Assistant Professor of English Literature, Islamic Azad University Karaj Branch, Karaj, Iran


The present research seeks to read Steve Toltz’s novel A Fraction of the Whole in terms of the Lacanian three orders. Its central argument is to reveal the affinity between Lacanian three orders that the characters undergo. In the course of A Fraction of the Whole, Martin Dean in pursuing his desire to gain power and strength, passes through three stages of Lacanian theory; the Imaginary Order, the Symbolic Order, and the Real Order. Both Martin and Jasper in Toltz’s novel have problematic relations with their mothers in different ways. Therefore, the Imaginary Order plays a vital role in shaping the characters’ subjectivity. To examine Lacan’s concepts of subjectivity, desire and Others in the Symbolic are the aims of this study. The main objectives are explaining the role of three Lacanian orders in shaping the identity and subjectivization of the characters. It is concluded that Jasper wanted to have an object of love in the Symbolic Order, so he preferred his own uncle, Terry Dean, over his own father. His father was the dominant figure in the Symbolic Order for Jasper as Martin tried to manipulate his son’s mind through words and language. Martin was stuck in a loop of life and death through the Symbolic Order of his life and there was no way out for him and he had turned into a traumatic character. Martin’s experience of the Real Order was shown as he found out that his own mother wanted to kill him by poisoning Martin.